September 12 – October 17, 2020
The good lord broke the mold
So there will never be another
They cried as children
And Friends lined
To the top of Fox Hill
The weight of the earth
As our gaze
Sinks down into the grave
It is finished
The battle is over
It is finished
And there’ll be no more war
— Dominique Knowles, The Solemn and Dignified Burial, 2019
Q&A with dominique knowles
What was the period of time in which these works were made?
Specifically, I started the selections of paintings in this show, ‘The Solemn and Dignified Burial Befitting My Beloved for All Seasons’ during the beginning of 2015 and continued painting them up to late summer of this year.
The paintings in this show are somewhat of a departure from your previous works, which often contained images of horses. Several of the paintings contain no images at all, while others (like the black painting) take a while for the image to reveal itself. Can you share some thoughts about these works and in particular, the two largest paintings in the show, which present fields of muted color.
Well, black monochromes and color fields are actually the beginning of my body of painting. They’re quite generous to painting and they carry a lot over the years as I layer them with color. For instance, those warm parallel rays of umber light uphold the original composition of ‘Clay Grave of the Lake, Currents Stream the Light of Fog’. With, ‘Break the Smoke in Deep’, the color varies in intensity through thin layers overtime, though the light it always had is maintained. These abstractions have always been present and even in moments when the paintings compound genre, either as fields of light or nuanced shadow, the luminosity, poetics as well as intimacy are subjects within the revelation of, or in the absence of a figure.
I love the all-black painting that reveals the figure of a creature emerging from layers of paint. Can you tell us more about this piece?
Thanks, ‘Orilla Oscura (Beached Whale)’ is a painting of a whale on the shore, or a resting raven, lying underneath a strata. Beings are a part of the earth’s strata. The temperature shifts in the painting, as there’s a great deal of absorption in the night, also there are reflective moments like the moon.
Can you talk more about how you “pull” figures out of the landscape — the painting surface of layers and layers of paint?
Throughout the years, I understood color and the articulation of light in nature as well as in painting more. I took my time to create an ethical space for the horse to exist in. The romance of horses, the sunset, the ocean and lovers could have been felt or seen before there were figures in the paintings through poetry, generative discourse, visceral experience or phenomenology of painting. With ‘Orilla Oscura (Beached Whale)’, after five years of looking, there’s an enigma, and I could envision a horizontal bird there underneath the earth-strata like gesture, wavering horizon or shoreline movement.
So I began to paint the animal being in a rhythm, color and light that’s harmonious with the space.
Likewise with ‘Black Bouquet, Shadows Floating on Rose River,’ I felt a dark fissure emanating in the core of the painting. So I began to express that rupture, and the shape created is lyrical with the painting, as it has been existing. Whether it’s a shadow of a bird or a whale, rather a dagger’s or a bouquet’s shadow, the suggested form is a fluid expression of interbeing. Though the meaning is in and through this insistent grief. This is an ethical consideration of the unbounded sentience of nature and the preservation of animism.
Tell us more about the origins and meanings of the exhibition’s title, as well as the poem you wrote that shares its title.
The title ‘The Solemn and Dignified Burial Befitting My Beloved for All Seasons’ is an adaptation of an article by my grandfather the late Rt. Hon. George W. Mackey. My grandfather George’s original title is ‘The Solemn and Dignified Burial Befitting a Man for All Seasons’, and it’s published in his book ‘Millennium Perspectives: A Selective Compilation of Viewpoints’ by George W. Mackey, which was written between 1999 and 2001, in dedication to my brother Devonn and me. His writing of this particular column from July 8, 2000, is a moral lamentation of the state funeral for his beloved, the late
Archdeacon William Edward Thompson. Both gentlemen were honored with state funerals and processions from Christ Church Cathedral in The Bahamas. My primary schools, people of his constituency and the public of The Bahamas attended my grandfather’s procession.
My grandfather called everyone “My Beloved”! He nurtured many gifts, especially compassion and empathy for animal beings like dogs, and left these breathing gifts, such as my horse Tazz, here on earth to be cared for. So from an early age this instills an awareness of being responsible for the life and death of another animal being.
Poetry is a significant part of your practice, too. How do you view poetry in relation to painting?
I’m mourning through my grandfather’s grief, and reading his written history through my poetic expression reconciles the tongue and embodied memory. These black atmospheres are meditations in the poetics of painting.
What does ‘soft’ and ‘softness’ mean to you, and to your paintings?
In this season, softness is being patient and empathic, so one can listen to their beloved for understanding. The paintings are the alchemy of longing to intimately be revealed within a loved one eternally.
Dominique Knowles (Bahamian, b. 1996) lives and works in Chicago, IL. Knowles received both his MFA in Painting as a New Artist Society Award full scholar in 2020 as well as his BFA in 2017 from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Awards include the 2013 Dean’s List of Columbia College, the 2012 Collegiate Presidential Inauguration of Barack Obama, 2011 Global Young Leaders United Nations, 2011 S.F.H.J.A. Jr. Hunt Seat Medal Finals Champion and The Winter Equestrian Festival. Knowles is a current nominee of The Leslie Lohman Museum Artist Fellowship. Recent solo exhibitions include Soccer Club Club (Chicago, IL), Goldﬁnch Projects (Chicago, IL), The Green Gallery East (Milwaukee, WI), The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (Nassau, Bahamas) and Popop Studios (Nassau, Bahamas). Knowles’ participation in group exhibitions consist of Galerie Emanuel Layr (Vienna, Austria / Rome, Italy) hosted by Sperling (Munich, Germany) in Various Others, Popop Studios (Nassau, Bahamas), The Bahamas International Film Festival (Nassau, Bahamas), The Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival, Medulla Gallery (Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago), 14°N 61° W (Martinique), Hilger BROTKunsthalle (Vienna, Austria), Halle 14 (Leipzig, Germany), Elmhurst Art Museum (Elmhurst, Illinois), Andrew Rafacz (Chicago, IL), The Packing Plant (Nashville, TN), Julius Caesar (Chicago, IL) and Four Flags: Chicago Manuel Style (Chicago, IL). Knowles has participated in residencies at The Suburban (Milwaukee, WI) and Liquid Courage Gallery (Nassau, Bahamas). He was Gallery Associate at Iceberg Projects (Chicago, IL) and has curated group exhibitions at Popop Studios (Nassau, Bahamas) as well as The Condo Association (Chicago, IL). Knowles is featured in publications such as Artforum (online), Mousse Magazine (online), Frieze Magazine (online), The Chicago Tribune, Bad at Sports, Hyperallergic, Arc Magazine, Blank Canvas podcast, New American Painting, The Seen Journal & The Poor Farm Press.