Roof for 2 1/2 Tatami (Slightly Covered)


Wood, roofing paper and tar

246.4 x 254 x 11.4 cm (97 x 100 x 4 1/2 in.)

Like tyre tracks on asphalt, Room for 2 1/2 Tatami (Slightly Covered) conveys a sense of urban passion. Created not with thick black paint but by borrowing its raw material from the road, this highly symbolical work is a tarmac painting: it references American roads, built by black people and immigrants in the mid 19th century, as well as Theaster Gates’ own family roots.

A material that’s hard to work with, here diverted from its primary use, tarmac finds particular resonance in Gates’ art, inseparable from city life. Deeply attached to Chicago, his hometown, the artist works actively on the urban planning of the city’s disadvantaged neighbourhoods, and always aims to link the space thus transformed with an artistic dimension.

Theaster Gates’ painting Room for 2 1/2 Tatami (Slightly Covered) belongs to the Pinault Collection. The painting was first shown at the “Prima Materia” (“Raw Material”) exhibition at the Punta della Dogana.