Khari Turner's Water-Inspired Exploration of Identity at London's Ross Sutton Gallery

Carlos Barragán
June 14, 2023

Visual Arts alumnus Khari Turner ’21 is exhibiting a solo show at No9 Cork Street, London. This collection, titled Solid to Gas and curated by Ross Sutton Gallery, is hosted by Frieze, a leading platform for contemporary art. The exhibition will run through June 17, 2023.

Solid to Gas is an exhibition in which Turner’s paintings combine abstraction with realistic renderings of Black noses and lips to investigate the spiritual and physical record of his ancestors' relationship with water. “All the water on this earth,” reads the exhibition’s introduction, “is the same water that has always been on this earth. The knowledge water holds is in all of us, and the realisation that we share this water is his focus.”

Turner's work explores themes of identity, history, and culture, interweaving water and history as materials. In many of his paintings, Turner incorporates water from oceans, lakes and rivers from all over the world. Through including ocean and lake water, Turner reminds us that we are one through time, space, and, more importantly, cellular memory.

Turner’s practice involves sourcing materials directly from different bodies of water, including the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, his hometown’s Lake Michigan and the Milwaukee River. Turner also paints, as he stated last year in his thesis exhibition, to create a “deeper connection to my identity and history as a Black American. Metaphorically, I see Black people as personifications of the magic that is the ocean. My paintings and drawings combine abstraction with realistic renderings of Black noses and lips to rejuvenate the relationship of my history to my ancestor’s history with water.”

Solid to Gas is Turner’s first solo exhibition in London, and follows a long line of milestone exhibitions in 2022, which included Turner’s first international solo presentation at the 59th Venice Biennale. The exhibition is available for viewing Tuesday through Saturday, 10 am–6 pm.