What happens when ancient art and primitive practice collude with modern aesthetics? Theaster Gates happens.
Don’t try to pigeonhole this intriguing Chicago native. He’ll slip your grasp and shape-shift onto his next creative burst. Dubbed a “superstar social artist”, Gates tackles everything from ceramics and music to sculpture and public works. He’s rebooted abandoned buildings in Chicago as culture hubs and mixed-income housing – and is currently creating an official presidential library for Barack Obama.
“I want to participate in all levels of culture-making, of society-building, of nation-building,” Gates told The Guardian last year.
Gates is currently culture-making in Athens at an exciting new exhibition at The Benaki Museum of Greek Culture that showcases his ceramic mastery. Seven of his large-scale vessels are displayed across the museum’s Prehistoric, Classical and Roman Antiquities Galleries, establishing an energetic dialogue between the ancient ceramic works and contemporary techniques inspired from across the Eastern Mediterranean zone and Africa. In “Vessels”, Gates delves into the ways that soil connects manual labour to a spiritual understanding of life.
Inspired by what you see? We encourage you to check out some of the fantastic contemporary ceramics on offer in Athens and perhaps snap up a piece of your own to take back home with you.