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Painting is at the core of Dyson’s practice, extending into other territories of making to include sculpture, drawing, architecture, performance, and pedagogy. As a painter she works slowly, building the surface of the canvas with washes, dense layers, expressive marks, and diagrammatic lines and planes. Through both improvised and responsive applications, her compositions build a visual scaffolding of different weights, perspectives, and scales that oscillate between representation and expression.
Exploring the spatial conditions of systems of oppression, Dyson’s work examines how Black bodies have occupied spaces and self-liberated throughout history. The repetition of forms such as the box, the curve, the triangle, and the trapezoid in both her paintings and architectonic installations informs Dyson’s exploration of “Black compositional thought,” a term she has used to describe a mode of awareness that contends with formal applications of mark-making and constructions of space as they manifest in both mind and material.
Torkwase Dyson (b. 1973, Chicago) describes herself as a painter working across multiple mediums to explore the continuity between ecology, infrastructure, and architecture. Dyson’s abstract works are visual and material systems used to construct fusions of surface tension, movement, scale, real and finite space. With an emphasis on the ways black and brown bodies perceive and negotiate space as information, Dyson looks to spatial liberation strategies from historical and contemporary perspectives, seeking to uncover new understandings of the potential for more livable geographies. Dyson received a BA from Tougaloo College in 1996, a BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1999 and MFA from Yale School of Art in painting/printmaking in 2003. Torkwase Dyson lives in New York and is represented by Pace Gallery.