Tariku Shiferaw

Abstract forms, concrete references

United States

“A meditation on the hypocrisy of America’s political history”

Tariku Shiferaw’s paintings, usually acrylic on plastic, speak a minimalist, formalist language but are very much infused with black culture; many of them are named after songs and musicians, such as Everything is Everything (Lauryn Hill), All Eyez on Me (Tupac), and That Black Boy Fly (Kendrick Lamar), all from 2016. His horizontal bars may echo aspects of the compositions of abstract painters before him, but they are partly derived from the shapes of shipping pallets, which take on a particular resonance in view of his being an African immigrant. “One begins to wonder, therefore,” as one observer has written, “if the paintings are made as much for their inherent beauty as to smuggle into the white gallery, like contraband, the referenced songs’ lyrics, culture and people?”

In addition to solo shows at venues including Brooklyn’s Cathouse Proper and Addis Fine Art in London, Shiferaw has been included in group exhibitions at the California African American Museum, Ltd. Los Angeles, Galerie Abstract Project in Paris, the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, and New York’s The Kitchen, among others. Born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and raised in Los Angeles, the artist now lives in New York. After earning a BFA at the University of California Los Angeles and an MFA at New York’s Parsons School of Design, Shiferaw studied at the renowned Whitney Museum of American Art’s Independent Study program.