Relational Chemistry

Relational Chemistry

ArtAboveReality is pleased to present “Relational Chemistry: An Introspective of Urban Experience”, a group survey highlighting nineteen contemporary artists in the city of Philadelphia. Focusing on their grassroots origins, “Relational History: A Introspective of Urban Experience” speaks to the artists using their practice to realize and then share their identities, an entrance, for the viewer, into the artist’s inner selves. 

Oct 16th — 20th, 2018

Ivben Studios, Philadelphia, PA

Curators Statement

With urbanism being diverse and lively, advancing in technology, and shifting capital investment, It is shaped by power and wealth, as well as imagination and labor layered with intertwined cultural and social histories. The work manifests itself in facets of painting, sculpture, and interactive installations, centering on the interpretation of culture, society, identity, and the complex but meaningful conversations relating to contemporary issues of urbanism and human chemistry. While the members of this show come from diverse backgrounds, it is this chemistry that ties their experiences and practices together.

Artists In The Exhibition:
Aubrie Costello, Holly Colaguori, Bariq Cobbs, Nema Etebar, Claes Gabriel, Kenneth Jackson, Caryn Kunkle, Nile Livingston, June Lopez, Alloyius McIlwaine, IvbenTaqiy, Taji Ra’oof Nahl, Dejeonge Reese, Serena Saunders, Richard Tenaglia, Ellen Tiberino, Gabe Tiberino, Raphael Tiberino, and Derrick Woodyard.

The exhibit will be on view to the public from October 16th through 20th. Press release and show imagery available upon request. Please contact [email protected] for more information. “Relational Chemistry: An Introspective of Urban Experience” is located at 3239 Amber Street., Philadelphia, PA 19134. Stay updated with ArtAboveReality on Instagram (@ArtAboveReality)  via the hashtags #ArtAboveReality, #RelationalChemistry. Also, visit us at All images are subject to copyright. Gallery approval must be granted prior to reproduction.


From the Vapour of Gasoline at White Cube, Mason’s Yard

From the Vapour of Gasoline at White Cube, Mason’s Yard

When I stumbled upon the title of this exhibition I immediately thought about the state of the country. In the United States, you could say that the current tone for the average citizen would be filled with worry, unexpected events, and the questioning of what it really means to be an American. “From the Vapour of Gasoline” at White Cube’s Mason’s Yard space, a group show featuring a caucus of artists works speak directly to humanity with a sinister yet clever disposition, immediately challenges that identity with images that conjure thoughts of a time where injustice reared its ugly face leading most citizens to question their place in a society that is supposed to protect their liberties and freedoms, or so that was the initial story.

The title of the exhibit borrows its name from “Peruvian Maid”, 1985 artwork by Jean-Michel Basquiat, whose trademark scribble can be seen prominently in the work, almost suggesting the evidence of smoke without seeing the fire that usually succeeds. Presenting images of “Americana” like the Dollar Bill and The U.S. Flag and pairing them with text and visuals that simulate violence and poverty, almost create a relationship that speaks far beyond the original origin of these images and it’s intended meaning.

“RIOT”, by Christopher Wool, the first work that you directly encounter upon entering the gallery, along with Cady Noland’s “Flag” immediately triggers a feeling of recent events involving the destruction of major cities because of what was promised by the symbol of “Freedom”. It seems that the values of what the flag really means are continuously challenged by citizens who feel that America should hold true to its promises and follow through on the promises made. 

But with recent events like the protest of the Flag by Colin Kaepernick and countless other NFL players and the killing of unarmed black men, it seems almost fitting that Robert Gober’s “Drain” assists the viewer in questioning whether those morals stand true or are they just another failed promise of the American Dream. It’s so fitting in the sense that if you weren’t already familiar with the work of Gober, you would think the gallery’s plumber somehow fell asleep at the wheel. 

Adding to this are the visuals of double transparency of a dollar bill staring directly at David Hammons’ work Untitled (body print), 1975, depicting a black man with his head held high, draped in the same symbol of a country sworn to uphold the ideals of its citizens. 

As you make your way down the steps into the lower part of the gallery you’re greeted with one of Richard Prince’s famous “Joke” artworks that provided a light-hearted laugh as you enter the second space that houses the rest of the exhibition. The laugh was short-lived as I made my right turn into the photos by Larry Clark which goes on to represent the ills of society.  Images of prostitution, gunshot wounds, drug, and spousal abuse, space is especially fitting, hidden almost out of sight, speaking to how these societal issues go unnoticed and untreated.

It seems that this show chooses to exacerbate self-image and play along with the ideologies of what seems to be the ephemeral meaning of these symbols. What is American society? Do we all fit? Do we each have an individual voice or are we susceptible to mass media and distorted images that shape what we believe to be a reality? Does the American Flag still stand for Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness or has all of that been sold out for the growth of the corporate machine? I wonder if that was in the thoughts of Barbara Kruger when she created her Untitled (Cast of Characters), 2016, featuring bold white text on black canvas elucidating a mixture of personalities that could easily pass for a representation of the art world. 

As an American citizen viewing the show in another country, I don’t know if I should feel embarrassed or enlightened by the content of the show. Having an outside-looking-in approach definitely allows me to think about the works in the proper context without the chatter of vulgarity spewed by other countrymen whose feelings seem to be hurt at the sentiments displayed, which seems almost to be another snapshot of where we are today. 

In the press release for the show, a key sentence stuck out to me. “These artists sought by different means to reacquaint their audience with the uncomfortable truths beyond the American Dream.” This made me chuckle because if you pose this question to Americans, most will act like they don’t know what you mean. “America is the greatest country in the world!” you may hear a few say, I tend to agree, but I’m also not oblivious to the fact that we have work to do. Maybe having this exhibit on the lawn of the White House would be a good place to start? Hmmm, let me think about that and get back to you.

Written by Badir McCleary

Exhibit: From the Vapour of Gasoline

White Cube Mason’s Yard

25-26 Mason’s Yard, SW1Y 6BU


Gallery 38

Gallery 38: Los Angeles

Gallery 38 an ongoing project by ArtAboveReality and Bancs Media, opened its doors in March of 2015 embarking on the West Adams community with a goal of resurrecting the neighborhood’s past history of visual culture and adding to the renaissance of art booming in the Los Angeles area. With time and painting, our vision with the help of our artists and the community we’ve been able to transform and breathe artistic creation back into a sector of the city needing resurgence. Named in a LA Weekly article as “The Center of the burgeoning West Adams Art Scene”, Gallery 38 has done over 20 solo exhibitions, 2 global art fairs, and have invited other emerging artists to join in by offering the gallery as a part-time studio and event space, thus creating a community of creativity.

With a community-based approach, Gallery 38 has been able to continue the tradition of presenting emerging and established artists while focusing on developing the community around them. Within the two years, the community has seen an eclectic interest in the aesthetics of the neighborhood showcasing a wide range of visual art from murals to academic exhibitions and panels in the community. The unique artists that light up the gallery and neighborhood, differ in concentration, composition, and social status, but are brought together by their unifying element of mixing mediums and thought-provoking imagery. Gallery 38 will continue to be a pioneer in bringing appreciation, education, and artistic freedom while displaying jaw-dropping exhibits and impermanent installations throughout the global arts community.

Address: 5376 W. Adams Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90016.

Curatorial Projects

Google Open Gallery

Google Open Gallery

We were so excited to be one of the first users of the Google Open Gallery platform that looked to feature creatives and institutions alike in a digital setting, to further the education of arts in the public and museums. We created our first exhibition, which featured up-and-coming and established artists focused on storytelling from inside their studios or around their local neighborhood walls.

Alloyius McIlwaine for the ArtAboveReality Collection on Google Open Gallery.
James Dupree for the ArtAboveReality Collection on Google Open Gallery.
Stolen Dreams in the Promised Zone by James Dupree for the ArtAboveReality Collection on Google Open Gallery.
La Ciudad de Color de for the ArtAboveReality Collection on Google Open Gallery.