Raél Jero Salley American

Raél Jero Salley is an artist, cultural theorist and art historian. He holds degrees from The Rhode Island School of Design (BFA), The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (MFA), and The University of Chicago (PhD). His research interests include modern and contemporary art and visual culture, with a focus on Blackness and African Diaspora.

In the exhibition “Present”, he examines the relationship between art and freedom and explores the representation of black people in relation to Western society. Salley says “Present”, which is made up mainly of painting and several sculptural objects, is a continuation of thinking related to his 2013 exhibition “Promise”.

In 2015, Mail & Guardian magazine confirms that of his art in relation to his new home in South Africa: “One of the reasons that I’m so excited to be here, I’ve been here for half a decade and I’m a permanent resident here – is in part because there is such a rich history […] Not in an abstract sense but in a real, material one: some of the oldest artwork known across the globe comes from this place and some of my artwork in the show refers to that history.”

In terms of form, content and meaning, Salley’s “Present” sets out to consider a set of “possibles,” which are tools and methods for resolving gaps between past and future. Instead of working in one artistic medium, Salley works across several media. Ideas, issues and themes are not restricted to within South African borders, but address the United States, Europe, and elsewhere across the globe.

Salley’s work is multifaceted. Its productive aspects are drawing, painting and object-making. They are interlinked by systematic study of, as well as engagement with, works of art from the past: their assessment, selection from them for the artist’s own vocabulary and the use of those parts in his own production. Salley’s critical awareness is expressed in the above activities and is developed through these activities. Throughout the entire exhibition, a consciousness of lived experience fluctuates between overt and sub textual manifestations.


Curriculum Vitae



PhD. The University of Chicago Humanities, Chicago, United States


MFA, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago Painting, Chicago, United States


BFA, The Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, United States


Solo exhibitions


Gallery MOMO, Johannesburg, South Africa


Sattva Studio, Los Angeles, United States


Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa


Mandela Rhodes Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa


Hiddingh Hall, Participatory Project in Cape Town, South Africa


Kamiyama Gallery, Kamiyama, Japan.

SubCity Projects, Chicago, Illinois,

Maryland Institute College of Art.

Baltimore, Maryland, USA

Decker Gallery. Baltimore, Maryland, USA


HIGHER Gallery, Chicago, Illinois, USA

Gallery 2 (SAIC), Chicago, Illinois, USA.

Sadelier Gallery, Danbury, Connecticut, USA


SAIC Gallery Chicago, Illinois, USA

College of the Bahamas Nassau, Nassau, the Bahamas


The Bush Gallery Providence, Rhode Island, USA



South Africa

– Jason S., “Artist Raél Jero Salley is present in the passing moment”, July 2015, in Mail & Guardian

– “Raél Jero Salley: Present”, July 2015, in Between 10 and 5

–  “Raél Jero Salley: Review”, July 2015, in Africanah

–  « Raél Jero Salley shows “Promise”  », May 2013, in IZIKO Museums of South Africa



–  “Raèl Jero Salley: present”, 2015, in Contemporary &, 2015


South Africa

– “Promise: Raél Jero Salley”, ACTSA Publishing, University of Cape Town’s Michaelis School of Fine Arts, Wayne Alexander, Zethu Matebeni, Jay Pather, Raél Jero Salley, 2015



Hansberry/J. Van Der Zee Award for Arts Excellence, Dartmouth College Hanover



– “Raél Jero Salley’s Present exhibition in the passing moment”, 4:33 minutes, July 2015, in SABC News