Solo Exhibitions: Raymond L. Haywood and Chris Komater

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Solo Exhibitions: Raymond L. Haywood and Chris Komater

October 22 - November 27

Mercury 20 Gallery continues to celebrate its fifteenth year as a platform for culturally relevant exhibitions from Bay Area artists with two solo shows opening October 22. Through painting and photography, Raymond L. Haywood and Chris Komater explore gesture, abstraction, and the aesthetics of meaning.

Raymond L. Haywood remembers that the context for his series Love Letters and Love Notes was evolving in late 2019 before “the COVID year.” Up to this point, brilliant color and bold compositions were signifiers in his aesthetic as well as in the emotional rhythms of his paintings. Inspired by landscapes and the sea, he surfed through layered colors and textures to uncover succinct improvisational gestures for his emotions. COVID-19 brought fear, indecision and placed plans on hold. Struggling with insecurity and voice, a new body of work came as a breakthrough. Through a key decision to incorporate the color black as ground, Haywood has produced his most mature body of work to date.

In two significant paintings, Absence of Light and Testify, Haywood developed his now-signature image of a stylized cowrie shell. The cowrie shell has many contexts and meanings in the African Diaspora that parallel the artist’s experiences as an African-American man in America. He states that “these paintings felt like wrestling with myself.” For Haywood, painting is a means of communication like no other: it is the praxis that brings meaning to his life.

Chris Komater has borrowed the title of his new series of photographs, Allegory of Inclination, from a 17th century work by the great Baroque painter, Artemisia Gentileschi. Artemisia was commissioned by the Casa Buonarotti in Florence to create a work that celebrated Michelangelo’s inborn artistic ability—his “inclination” towards artistic expression. Komater’s version is a gathering of the subject matter that has been the basis of his various projects over the years, the flowers of his aesthetic desire, in a way: the older male body and its aesthetic and sensual representation. His desires and narratives are given visual form through photography, a medium that is as true and objective as it is malleable and obfuscating.


October 22
November 27
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Mercury 20 Gallery
475 25th Street
Oakland, CA 94612 United States
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