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