September 8 – December 2, 2023
September 8 – December 2
Artists Space is pleased to present his beard is soft, my hands are empty, the first New York institutional solo exhibition of Philadelphia-based multidisciplinary artist Jonathan Lyndon Chase (b. 1989).
"The domestic is powerful because it’s the foundation of so much we do in our everyday lives. It’s a safe space to allow oneself to just ‘be’ without performing or thinking of the dangers of the outside world."
—Jonathan Lyndon Chase
his beard is soft, my hands are empty presents reimagined versions of environments such as a barbershop and a living room that engender Black Queer interiority, community, and the beauty of everyday intimacy. Combining aspects of the artist’s biography with elements of folklore and fantasy, Chase’s highly spirited, provocative paintings and soft sculptures incorporate materials such as bedsheets and clothing to create an atmosphere of both vulnerability and comfort.
Occupying the entire ground floor of Artists Space, his beard is soft, my hands are empty showcases both newly commissioned and preexisting works. Moving through the exhibition, visitors will encounter paintings, drawings, and soft sculptures whose forms evoke hair clippers, Ultra Sheen Hair Grease jars, and durags. Each doubles as a surface for vibrantly painted and affectionate scenes that portray friends and lovers in familiar settings, at ease and involved in acts of pleasure.
As part of the exhibition, Chase turns the exterior of Artists Space into the facade of a barbershop, complete with its tri-colored barber pole. This transformation emphasizes the complex and delicate threshold between public and private that is particular to Black Queer life. For Chase, domestic space is a locus of self-care and mindfulness, a manifestation of one’s innermost emotions and an extension of the body.
Chase’s immersive installation harnesses the power of memory to map the emotional, mental, and physical territories of the everyday. In their witty, sensual paintings and sculptures, their longing poetry, and their work in other mediums, the artist finds new ways to make the Black Queer body visible.