“Erase Me” is solo exhibition of Tariku Shiferaw’s current body of work titled “One of These Black Boys” at the Addis Fine Art project Space in London.
“One of These Black Boys” interrogates the concept of mark-making both physically and metaphysically. Using titles of songs from Hip-Hop, R&B, Jazz, Blues, and Reggae music, these paintings embody both the experiences and struggles expressed through music by Black artists. The topics range from expressions of being black bodies in a white social construct to expressions of romance and sex.
In appropriating song titles as painting titles, the work automatically inherits the references, identities, and the history portrayed through the songs. For Instance, “If I Rule The World” is a song-title used as a title of a paintings. It is a 1996 song by Nas featuring Lauryn Hill, where Nas re-imagines a world different from the unjust one he lives in. Every song used to title paintings tells a story that refers to a certain reality. The work becomes a reference of a reference, much like a signifier to another symbol. This creates repetitive patterns both aesthetically and conceptually.
Subtle, yet intricate works that overtake a space with authority, these paintings are placeholders for Black bodies, creating a literal way of being “seen” in a society that does not often see the “other.” These works are in some way as minimal and subtle as Ad Reinhardt’s black paintings, where he exhibited large black paintings with slight variations in luminosity between grades of black paint. “One of These Black Boys” creates an overwhelmingly immersive experience without losing the qualities of the little moments of subtlety.