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 builds the paintings slowly, accumulating washes, building surface, and configuring minimal geometric elements that lend a productive tension between image and object. The paint-handling producing various visual qualities using brushwork and other tools is made poetic by a juxtaposition of delicate marks and scored diagrammatic lines. This compositional rigor imbues the works with an architectural presence and optical gravity.
Dyson considers spatial relations an urgent question both historically and in the present day. Through abstract paintings, Dyson grapples with ways space is perceived and negotiated. Explorations of how the body unifies, balances, and arranges itself to move through natural and built environments become both expressive and discursive structures within the work.
In addition to participating in group exhibitions at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington, D.C.; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; and California African American Museum, Los Angeles, Dyson has had solo exhibitions and installations at Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville, Maine; Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, Chicago; Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, Philadelphia; and Suzanne Lemberg Usdan Gallery, Bennington College, Vermont. In 2020, Dyson’s solo exhibitions included Black Compositional Thought | 15 Paintings for the Plantationocene presented by the New Orleans Museum of Art and I Can Drink the Distance, Plantationocene in Two Acts on view at Pace Gallery New York. Torkwase Dyson lives in New York and is represented by Pace.