“I paint to create a deeper connection to my identity and history as a Black American,” Khari Turner says as he opens his newest solo show, Breathing Water to Air, on view at Ross-Sutton Gallery through August 7, 2021. “Metaphorically, I see Black people as personifications of the magic that is the ocean. My paintings and drawings combine abstraction with realistic renderings of Black noses and lips to rejuvenate the relationship of my history to my ancestor’s history with water. I use water from oceans, lakes, and rivers from places that have either a historical or personal connection to black history — water that I collect to mix with and pour onto my paintings. My focus is to create a direct relationship to my emotions and understanding of my past, a journey of spiritual connection. I focus on Black history to celebrate my ancestors for surviving the challenges they faced, not to display their pain. I paint to bring the stories and histories with images holding an elegance and chaos that comes with this existence.”

In this new body of work all created simultaneously this Spring in his Harlem studio, Turner is further exploring abstraction in his figurative abstract work. For the first time he is incorporating water from the coast of Senegal with water from lower Manhattan docks, Lake Michigan and Milwaukee River water, water from the Pacific Ocean and oil, ink, watercolor, charcoal and sand on canvas or board.