Online I ordered tickets for Late Night tonight at Tate Modern. How beautiful is St Paul’s and the River on an August evening. Of course I didn’t read the Tate page properly where it said the event was for 18-25 year olds and so I phoned the events team and was told that there was no problem at all and just come and enjoy. I did.
Soul Of A Nation, the art of the Black Power era at the Tate, is smashing. It is well-curated and well-documented. It’s a journey through revolutionary newspapers and artists’ statements whether in their words or huge canvases or through symbols and collages. It is visually stunning.The huge selection of work is spaced out such that spectators get a chance to breathe in the power of paint and images. I loved it. I felt comfortable and at home. I know the subject matter from knowledge of US Civil Rights in the sixties, through petitioning for fair trials for Angela Davis. I feel for artists who have or had nowhere to display their craft and soul.
The spectators or participants in the free evening surprised me. There were plenty of Nubian queens and African prints and hair-does celebrating natural hair. I’d say there were about a hundred people who queued outside and possibly ten people not of colour, not Black. I was surprised. The evening was well advertised and the only criteria was age and that was a loose stipulation. What made an art exhibition and music thrown in which was superb too over free refreshments become an evening of black togetherness. It’s an art exhibition firstly. Where were the white girls and boys? Absolutely their loss for not coming along tonight I’d say.
There were cartoons all about police behaviour and young people tonight were referencing Charlottesville August 2017. The trio of musicians gave us beautiful renderings of Alicia Keys and Bob Marley’s songs and when the soul shone through, a light crashed down from the bar ceiling.. We continued to munch our nuts.
There was much inspiration for an artist in terms of colour and audacity, the boldness over using different material in different ways, the sheer courage to mount colour over massive canvases or on hung cloth, the pride in experience expressed in figurative work but just as equally relevant in abstract shapes and the enduring perseverance to share art whichever way or means are or were available. I applaud all those artists I’m about to google.