Theaster Gates

Line Drawing for Shirt and Cloak

September 14 – November 2, 2019

Press preview with the artist: Saturday, September 14, 11:00 am

Opening reception: Saturday, September 14, 6:00 – 8:00 pm

Gallery hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 10:00 am – 6:00 pm


“If someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.”

–Gospel of Matthew, 5:40


Regen Projects is pleased to present Line Drawing for Shirt and Cloak, the second solo exhibition at the gallery by Theaster Gates.


Line Drawing for Shirt and Cloak presents a complex reflection on desire, consumption and surrender using contemporary activations of the storefront as a vehicle for expressing both emotional and aesthetic intent. With a highly honed metal strategy and the artist’s entire wardrobe, this multi-faceted installation represents a conscious movement toward the freedom found when one’s appetite and the world’s insistence asks for everything, and a moment of clearing when emotive freedom is found.


Referencing the exhibition’s title, the gallery will be transformed by a series of free-standing and wall-mounted metal structures that demarcate the interior of the space, forming a series of line drawings onto which varying sculptural and quotidian works will hang. Additional sculptural forms supported by large stone pillars and large metal and wood platforms form the basis of an extant atelier. In preparation for the exhibition, Gates will transform his entire wardrobe into many smaller symbolic works, which will be placed en masse as a large sculptural work. This body of work, while a departure in material motif, underscores Gates’ ongoing interest in both the transcendental acts of reclusion and denouncement, and his inability to totally reconcile his appetite for spiritual truth with his competing desire for the things of this world. Through painting, sculpture, sound, and up-cycling, Gates continues to find truth in the unseen and evidence growth in ways unexpected.


A new vocal score conceived of and performed by Gates punctuates the exhibition space. The lyrics of the piece playfully riff on the biblical verse from which the exhibition’s title is inspired, and offer an explication for the artist’s metamorphosis.


“I’ve always been a lover of material things; fashion, antiques, adornment. A believer in the beautiful. But in this moment, I’ve never felt more need to question my own contempt and appetite. This process is not a spiritual attempt; it’s actually quite worldly. I can’t feel growth because I’m weighted by the things around me and people can’t see my growth. The accumulations are a distraction. But the title has much to do with what happens when the world charges you – the outside forces that judge and gnaw and hate. If the world wants to pursue me for this shirt, well, they can have it all.


The sculptural intent of the show is to introduce an unexpected spatial strategy at Regen that gives me permission to be free of conventional gallery tropes and form a set of new sculptural dictates that consider more of the everyday world of fashion and street activity. The project is a minor response to the growth of interest that the fashion world has in art and perhaps my own reckoning with the power of the hyper-public, hyper-everyday considerations that fashion affords. I’m in dialogue with Willie Wear, Girbaud, the Prada concern, retail projects in China, the historic fashions that Chicago House Music produced, and my mama’s church hats. While none of these things need to be immediately perceived, they are no-less present.” –Theaster Gates, 2019


Theaster Gates (b. 1973 Chicago, IL) received an MS in Urban Planning, Ceramics, and Religious Studies in 2006 from Iowa State University and an MA in Fine Arts and Religious Studies from the University of Cape Town in 1998. He lives and works in Chicago. 


Forthcoming solo exhibitions of the artist’s work will be presented at Haus der Kunst, Munich (October 25, 2019 – May 3, 2020) and Tate Liverpool (December 13, 2019 – May 4, 2020). Gates’ collection will be the subject of Assembly Hall at Walker Art Center in Minneapolis (September 7, 2019 – January 12, 2020). Recent solo exhibitions include The Black Image Corporation, Gropius Bau, Berlin (2019); Facsimile Cabinet of Women Origin Stories, Colby Museum of Art, Waterville (2019); Amalgam, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2019); The Black Image Corporation, Fondazione Prada, Milan (2018); Black Madonna, Kunstmuseum Basel (2018); Theaster Gates, Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas (2018); The Black Charismatic, IHME Project, Helsinki (2017); and The Minor Arts, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (2017). Group shows include the Whitney Biennial, New York (2010); dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel, Germany (2012); The Spirit of Utopia, Whitechapel Gallery, London (2013); When Stars Collide, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2014); Gone Are the Days of Shelter and Martyr, as part of All The World’s Futures, the 56th International Art Exhibition – Venice Biennale; and Three or Four Shades of Blue, as part of SALTWATER: A Theory of Thought Forms, 14th Istanbul Biennial (both 2015).


Gates has received numerous awards including Obayashi Foundation Visions of the City Grant (2019); the Urban Land Institute J.C. Nichols Prize for Visionaries in Urban Development (2018); the Nasher Prize (2018); American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Architecture (2017); Center for Architecture and Design Edmund N. Bacon Award (2017); Sprengel Museum Hannover Kurt Schwitters Prize (2017); Smithsonian Ingenuity Award for Social Progress (2015); the Artes Mundi 6 Prize (2015); the inaugural Vera List Center Prize for Art and Politics (2013); United States Artists Fellowship (2012); Graham Foundation Architecture Award (2012, 2009); and Artadia: The Fund for Art and Dialogue Award (2008). He has been awarded honorary degrees from Colby College and University of the Arts London and was the 2018 Getty Center Scholar/Artist in Residence. Gates is the founder and executive director of the non-profit Rebuild Foundation and Professor in the Department of Visual Art at the University of Chicago.


Work by the artist is held in the collections of national and international institutions including Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; Art Gallery of Ontario; Brooklyn Museum; Dallas Museum of Art; Kunstmuseum Basel; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Menil Collection, Houston; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach; NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale; Pérez Art Museum Miami; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Sifang Art Museum, Nanjing; Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Tate Modern, London; University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor; Virginia Museum of Fine Art, Richmond; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; among others.


An opening reception for the artist will be held on Saturday, September 14, from 6:00 – 8:00 pm.


For all press inquiries, please contact Ben Thornborough at +1 310 276 5424 or


For all other inquiries, please contact Isha Welsh at Regen Projects.