Hew Locke: Here’s the Thing

Hew Locke: Here’s the Thing

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI––August 29, 2019–– Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art is pleased to present Hew Locke: Here’s the Thing, with an opening reception taking place Thursday, September 12, from 6:00–8:00 p.m. Raise a glass with the artist and enjoy live music from reggae band, Elisha Israel & AZ-One, with complimentary beer and wine provided by Café Sebastienne and cocktails thanks to Tom’s Town Distilling Co. of Kansas City. 

The celebration will continue with a free Talk by the artist taking place Friday, September 13, from 6:00–7:00 p.m., with a cash bar beginning at 5:00 p.m., followed by a ticketed Artist Dinner celebrating Kemper Museum’s twenty-fifth anniversary year. 

This is the most comprehensive exhibition to date of work by British artist Hew Locke and involves a wide range of media: painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, and installation. Locke explores the languages of colonial and postcolonial power and the symbols through which different cultures assume and assert identity. 

Activating his awareness of colonial impact, Locke modifies historical source material and artifacts to focus attention on the United Kingdom, its monarchy, and his (then newly independent) childhood home of Guyana in South America. 

“By appropriating images of coats of arms and trophies, weaponry, naval warships, public statuary, and the costumes and regalia of state, Locke critiques governmental authority, its iconographies, and legacies,” writes Erin Dziedzic, director of curatorial affairs at Kemper Museum. 

Locke’s Souvenir series of royal busts, including Souvenir 1 (Queen Victoria) (2018), is presented alongside reworkings of antique share certificates, obsolete documents referring to the exploitative nature, and turbulent history of colonial economies. 

Images of ships and boats—important forms with countless possible meanings throughout the exhibition—evoke centuries of warfare, trade, and strategies of cultural imperialism, as well as personal significance for the artist: 

Here’s the thing: Guyana means ‘land of many waters’—you are constantly aware of boats. I went to Guyana as a five-year-old kid on a boat. I came back here [the UK] on a boat. So many things, good and bad, travel by sea. 

People want simple answers about what this work is about, but it doesn’t exist. Migration, trade, refugees, warfare, exploration, tourism … [are] extremely messy and interlinked. 

To whoever is asking, I say, come back tomorrow and I’ll have something different to say about it.

–– Hew Locke        

Hew Locke: Here’s the Thing is organized by Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, UK; Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, Missouri; and Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville, Maine. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue, available at the Kemper Museum Shop.

Support for Kemper Museum is generously provided by members and donors. Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art is open 10:00 a.m.– 4:00 p.m., Tuesday–Wednesday; 10:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m., Thursday and Friday; and 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m., Saturday and Sunday. All exhibitions and public programs at Kemper Museum are free.


About Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art
Kansas City’s renowned FREE contemporary art museum, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art opened in October 1994 and boasts a growing Permanent Collection that uniquely bridges modern and contemporary works of art featuring artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Barbara Chase-Riboud, Keltie Ferris, Helen Frankenthaler, Hans Hofmann, Rashid Johnson, Joan Mitchell, Richard Mosse, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Ursula von Rydingsvard. Special exhibitions, installations, lectures, and workshops, as well as youth, teen, and family programs are regularly hosted at the Museum. 

For high-resolution images, interview requests, and general media inquiries please contact:

Breeze Richardson
Director of Marketing and Communications
Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art
brichardson@kemperart.org | 816-457-6132 (direct)

Image credit:
Installation view, Hew Locke: Here’s the Thing, March 8–June 2, 2019, at Ikon Gallery, Birmingham UK, courtesy the artist and Ikon Gallery. Photo: Stuart Whipps.

Download: Hew Locke: Here’s the Thing (pdf)