Beast of No Nation, Paintings by Chaves Smith

Beast of No Nation, Paintings by Chaves Smith


Vessel Gallery presents a solo exhibition for artist painter Chaves Smith.

Beast of No Nation | May 4 – June 23, 2018
New paintings by Chaves Smith

OPENING RECEPTION: Friday, May 4, 6–9 PM
coinciding with Oakland Art Murmur, on 1st Friday
a conversation with the artist

CELEBRATION: Friday, June 1, 6–9 PM
coinciding with Oakland Art Murmur, on 1st Friday

“The beast in me / Is caged by frail and fragile bars / Restless by day / And by night rants and rages at the stars / God help the beast in me”-Johnny CashThe Beast in Me

Beasts of No Nation asks the viewer to consider the following: What makes a beast?  Is it nature or nurture?  How do the structures of race, class, and gender shape our growth and development?  How do you relate to society when that society refuses to relate to you?  What does nationalism mean when your first recognition of the state is at the moment the state recognizes you as an enemy?  What is the value of a system that perpetuates itself by denying value to human beings based on arbitrary distinctions?

Examined within the larger context of our current socio-political landscape, the paintings offer timely and nuanced observations on the state of the nation.  However, they are as much a product of their environment as the artist, containing a depth of complex and often contradictory thoughts and emotions.  Looking beyond the obvious political implications to apprehend the full scope of the work, a larger picture emerges, that of a candid and multilayered portrait of the artists’ psyche. 

Dynamic, meandering lines of the paintings trace his daily maneuvers within institutional structures that seek to curtail his movement and freedom. The rectangular boundaries of the canvas contain the visceral energy of Chaves’ work, similarly, the impulsive freedom of the artist is bound within the imposed frameworks of race, class, and gender.  Creating a compelling flowchart of his lived experience as a Black man in 21st century America, the work grapples with questions of identity, heritage, and marginalization.  It is a potent visualization of how to move and shake within the framework.

Event Info

  • Presented By: Vessel Gallery
  • Dates: May 4, 2018 - June 23, 2018
  • Recurrence: Recurring daily
  • Location: Vessel Gallery
  • Address: 471 25th St., 471 25th Street, Oakland, CA 94612
  • Phone: 510-893-8800
  • Time: 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM
  • Price: Free
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