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The budding painter Reginald Sylvester II finds refuge in abstraction

By on May 13, 2022 0
Earlier this year he received the Northern Trust Purchase Prize at EXPO Chicago, which saw the Pérez Art Museum Miami acquire his work. Four corners (2021). This work is currently featured in Sylvester’s first solo exhibition at the museum, “Painter’s Refuge: A Way of Life”, at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture in North Carolina. This exhibition marks a turning point in the artist’s developing abstract practice: he turns away from gestural marking to explore materials that expand the limits of abstraction.

Through this work, Sylvester expresses evolving thought and explores the many possibilities of developing artistic practice. “‘Nemesis’ was super important to me because it was my foot in the door of abstraction,” Sylvester said. With this work, Sylvester does what all great abstractors do: he draws you in visually, only to grab you cerebrally with a myriad of thoughts, ideas, and questions.

“Nemesis”, like much of Sylvester’s work, is tied to Christian writing. In these tables, he quotes a passage from Book of Galatians which speaks of the battle between the soul and the flesh. The soul symbolizes purity and holiness, while the flesh represents the indulgence of passion and desire; the second, a revolt against the will of God. The two entities are at war, but coexist within the human being. “The show is called ‘Nemesis’ because it was a reminder of my internal, carnal and spiritual struggles,” Sylvester said.