Text by Lucrezia Sgualdino

Chrysalis is the essence of Tyler Mitchell’s deep exploration of Black culture in the American South. A radiant resilience full of human energy. 

Gagosian presents Chrysalis, the American photographer’s first solo exhibition, and also his first in London, to the public. Mitchell’s photography offers a utopian vision of the beauty of black culture that holds great desires and a strong sense of belonging. In the series of photographs on display he decides to capture young dark-skinned boys immersed in nature, telling images of harmony and simplicity but also of fantasy and imagination. The surreal element returns in the photographer’s lens that fills with a veil of magic spirituality, transformation and aspiration of an entire culture. The women and men shot for the project seem ideally amused and relaxed, confident and serene, free of all social and moral expectations.

“Collectively, these moments become od an imaginative psychic state of being, one in which radiance, resistance, restraint, comfort, and full human agency exist.”

– Tyler Mitchell

The image Chrysalis, which shares its title with the same exhibition, features a man in the center, sleeping on a bed wrapped in blankets and protected by a mosquito net that refers to the shapes of a canopy. Glint of possibility, on the other hand, depicts a figure semi-reclining in a tire, rocking on the surface of the water of a lake, in a perfect representational and practical balance. In Treading there is the head of a young man emerging from the same lake, trying to make himself look like a bunch of balloons floating in the center of the image. Each figure chosen and portrayed seems to have a direct connection to its surroundings, whether land, water, or sky, it seems to have found its place in the infinite universe of possibilities that surround us. Like that depiction of the rural environment as an artificial vessel that we find in Cage. In contrast to these early clear and quiet elements are a series of photographs, smaller even in size, in which mud and murky water take control. In The Heart the figure is completely covered in slush, in Tenderly we see instead dirty footprints on wooden boards. The new language comes together in a crossroads of conceptual and logical vision. 


For more information

CAGE, 2022.
Tyler Mitchell, Gagosian Davies Street, Sept 2022




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