Tavares Strachan – Unmastered
Tavares Strachan – Unmastered



Curated by Tavares Strachan


Stan Burnside

Jeffrey Meris

Joan Miró

Pablo Picasso

Tavares Strachan

Antoni Tàpies



Unmastered: the recording music term that describes a raw digital recording that has not been cleaned up for audio consumption. 

Reggae, a style of music steeped in African tradition, is at the heart of Western contemporary music. Derived from colloquial Caribbean expression “rege rege,” meaning rags or raggy clothes, this was also a commonplace way to describe a poor black person from the Caribbean. A massive part of the Afro-Caribbean experience is marked by well-documented, substandard living conditions created by the colonial project. The invention of reggae was largely defined by this very lack of access to base level necessities, such as quality food, running water and access to education. These disadvantages resulted in the socio-economic trauma experienced by black people throughout the Caribbean. Like the history of dub and hip-hop, the production of reggae music derived from a lack of access to traditional instruments and recording equipment. The Caribbean boy used a boom box or used records to make music out of necessity, reflecting a particular kind of mastery within this struggle. Born from struggle and inequity, this art form is the foundation of almost all of world music and by extension world culture.



Unmastered: a reframing of the idea of a “master” which inherently has been framed by a Eurocentric lens.  

To disarm this term, we must understand how it functions, and who benefits from it. This means we must interrogate the works of masters such as Picasso and Miró next to Afro-futurists such as Stan Burnside. We must trade in our Eurocentric toolbox for processing the world for one that places value on creative practice based of both cause and effect. Pablo Picasso’s Negro or African period is essentially a reinterpretation of African masks. This sampling of material from the African continent is singularly responsible for the development of a European avant-garde, forming Modernism. I am not interrogating sampling as a means of inspiration or making the claim that Picasso is less important because he and many of his peers sampled Africa. In fact, I am postulating that artists such as Picasso and Miró are part of a universal creative pool that all artists share, regardless of race, color, or creed. It is important to understand that every tree has a root, and for a large portion of culture that root is deeply African.

When asked to curate this exhibition, I reflected on my own artistic practice. I spent the past eight years researching hidden histories and through this work I became fascinated with making the invisible aspects of history visible. This research has led me to the place where I am concerned with how things are more similar than how they are different. Curating this exhibition was also wonderful opportunity for me to talk about the long history of Afro-surrealism that lives in the Caribbean. In 2009, historian Scot Miller famously wrote in the Afro-Surreal Manifesto, “Afro-Surrealism sees that all others who create from their actual, lived experiences are surrealist.” The diasporic struggle is both real to the person in the struggle, and mostly unfathomable to an outsider. Stan Burnside and Jeffery Meris are examples of artists making from their lived experience. Burnside has a unique way of telling the story of living as a Bahamian, as a form of magic that evolved from struggle. A disciplined colorist and an expert historian, Burnside helps us better understand the expression “drawing blood from a stone.”


Meris, on the other hand, examines his experience as an immigrant, specifically the toll that social and physiological stresses take on the body. For his works in the exhibition, Meris renders the detritus from his performances and kinetic sculptures into ways of measuring and recording activity. These works are made by placing paper on the floor, picking up what was left, and making these drawings a form of material surveillance.


If the question is what do all of these artists have in common, the answer is everything. All of these works are connected, and it is up to us to re-organize those structures that value one work over another based on arbitrary dividing lines. We know based on our collective experience that we must reject the idea that something is better purely based on the fact that its producer is European. Picasso and the Modernists taught us that a long time ago. We also know that by principle of our universe, everything is connected. The relationships between artists transcend time and space. In this sense, Pablo Picasso is surely having a conversation with Stan Burnside.


2018 The Other Side of the Sun, Mestre Projects, Nassau, The Bahamas

2018 Invisibles, Regen Projects, Los Angeles, CA
2015 How to Make Someone Invisible, Fergus McCaffrey, St. Barthélemy, Caribbean

Tavares Strachan: SEEING IS FORGETTING THE THING THAT YOU SAW, Anthony Meier Fine Arts, San Francisco, CA

2014 You Belong Here, Prospect 3. Biennale, New Orleans, LA
2013 The Immeasurable Daydream, Biennale De Lyon, Lyon, France

Polar Eclipse, Bahamas Pavilion, 55th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy

Tavares Strachan: Here and Now, Dvir Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel 2012 Seen/Unseen, Undisclosed Exhibition, New York, NY

Here and Now, Dvir Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel
2011 Sometimes Lies are Prettier, Rossi & Rossi, London, England 2010 Other Than Beauty, Friedman Benda Gallery, New York, NY

Orthostatic Tolerance: It Might Not Be Such a Bad Idea if I Never Went Home Again, MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, MA

Orthostatic Tolerance: Launching into an Infinite Distance, Grand Arts, Kansas City, MOO

2009 You Can Do Whatever You Like (Orthostatic Tolerance Project), Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

2008 A Hundred Years, Daniel Weinberg Gallery, Los Angeles, CA Tavares Strachan, Pierogi 2000, Leipzig, Germany

2006 The Difference between What We Have and What We Want, Albury Sayle Primary School, Nassu, The Bahamas

Tavares Strachan, Pierogi 2000, Brooklyn, NY
Tavares Strachan, Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York, NY
Where We Are Is Always Miles Away, The Luggage Store, San Francisco, CA

2001 Synergism, Pro Gallery, Nassau, The Bahamas
1999 BLACK&WHITEWORKS, Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York, NY

Tavares Strachan, ADAA Art Show, New York, NY Reactions, Central Bank Gallery, Nassau, The Bahamas


2016 False Narratives, Pierogi Gallery, Manhattan, NY
Winter 2015: Collected Works, Rennie Collection, Vancouver, Canada

2015 The Transformation Business, curated by Gregory Volk, Jane Lombard Gallery, New York, NY

2014 On the Blue Shore of Silence, Tracy Williams Gallery, New York, NY Bringing the World Into the World, Queens Museum, New York, NY

2013 Arctic, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. Humlebaek, Denmark Life: On the Moon, Various Small Fire’s, Los Angeles, CA Pataphysics, Sean Kelly, New York, NY
Tavares Strachan at the 5th Moscow Biennale, Moscow, Russia

2011 Roundabout, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel
2010 Roundabout, Wellington City Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand

From Liberty Square to Independence Square, Fokus Lodz Biennale 2010, Lodz Biennale, Lodz

Instructions Not Included, Pierogi Brooklyn, NY
Double Up Double Up, Quint Contemporary Art, La Jolla, CA Other Than Beauty, Friedman Benda Gallery, New York, NY

2009 BLACK&WHITEHORSE, Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York, NY Tavares Strachan, ADAA Art Show, New York, NY
Inaugural Exhibition, The Boiler (Pierogi), Brooklyn, NY

2008 The Armory Show, New York, NY
Drawing Review: 37 Years of Works on Paper, Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York, NY InnerOutterSpace, Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh, PA
Pierogi et al, Daniel Weinberg Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

2007 20th Anniversary: In the Fullness of Time, The Luggage Store, San Francisco, CA Block Party II: An Exhibition of Drawings, Daniel Weinberg Gallery, Los

Angeles, CA
Connecticut Contemporary, wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT
From the Fat of the Land: Alchemies, Ecologies, Attractions, Grand Arts, Kansas

City, MO
New York State of Mind, Queens Museum of Art, Queens, NY
New York States of Mind, The House of World Cultures, Berlin, Germany (Un)Natural Selection, Pierogi 2000, Brooklyn, NY

2006 FACTITIOUS, Pierogi 2000, Brooklyn, NY
School Days, Jack Tiltion Gallery, New York, NY
Surveillances and Observations, Pierogi 2000, Leipzig, Germany

2005 SAFN Museum, Reykjavik, Iceland
2004 Nothing Compared to This, Cincinnati Arts Center, Cincinnati, OH 2003 Mine, Lombard Freid Fine Arts, New York, NY

One on One, Pierogi 2000, Brooklyn, NY
2002 Caribbean Biennial, Museum of Modern Art, Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic

Meiosis, Sol Gallery, Providence, RI

Perspectives, Woods Gerry Gallery, Providence, RI 2001 Synergism, Pro Gallery, Nassu, The Bahamas
2000 Glass Triennial, Woods Gerry Gallery, Providence, RI

On The Edge of Time, Contemporary Art from the Caribbean, Washington, DC

Shattered Fractions, College Gallery, Nassu, The Bahamas
1999 Past Independent Art, Central Bank Gallery, Nassu, The Bahamas Visual Dialogue, Group of works travelling through The Bahamas

1998 Floyd’s Fury, Pro Gallery, Nassu, The Bahamas