Rico Gatson is a Brooklyn-based multimedia artist and object maker working across abstraction and figuration. Gatson graduated from Bethel College with a BFA in 1989 and Yale School of Art with an MFA in 1991. Gatson’s striking visual language utilizes iconography from sources such as African textiles and religious icon paintings. His art is influenced by the early twentieth-century geometric compositions of Russian Constructivist propaganda posters, whose creators believed that art should reflect the everyday lives of the people. Reimagining the Black figure’s place in history, the present, and the future, Gatson’s work also evokes Afrofuturism. He frequently combines these inspirations in one canvas, sculpture, video, or mural mosaic to create vibrant geometric compositions underpinned with powerful social commentary, often related to significant moments in Black history. Gatson’s work inspires thoughtful investigations and renegotiations of race, identity politics, and history. His abstract works powerfully offer loaded symbols and images that spark dialogue regarding the U.S. political landscape, especially as it relates to Black life and Black icons.
Gatson has been featured in numerous exhibitions at The Studio Museum in Harlem including Freestyle (2001) and a 2017 solo presentation of works on paper created over a ten-year period. His works in the permanent collection range from works on paper to video installations.