Syncopated Tales: Darin Cooper, Ryan Cosbert, Emmanuel Massillon

23 November 2023 - 21 January 2024

Bode is pleased to present Syncopated Tales,a group exhibition of Darin Cooper, Ryan Cosbert, and Emmanuel Massillon, exploring diverse musical traditions of the African Diaspora through various forms of artistic expression, including painting, sculpture, and new media. The focus of the show lies on the power of Black music and its tremendous influence on contemporary art. Part of the presented works have been created at Bode's residency program in Berlin. The exhibition is therefore aimed at reflecting on the intertwined history and future of music, culture, and identity across the African diaspora and beyond.


Darin Cooper provides a unique perspective on the Black culture of the 2000s. His work is imbued with Southern culture's profound contradictions, wrestling with themes of erasure, memory, religion, spirituality and the transformative cultural shifts. Cooper aims to use various materials to create artistic 'portals', connecting viewers to worlds they may not be aware of. Being in Berlin, the artist has been inspired by representatives of the local art scene who work with digital art and printmaking, and immediately transferred his impressions into his own screen prints. Experiencing the city's music scene and club culture, Cooper has come in touch with the familiar hip-hop beats, placed in a different context. That resulted in a series of works reflecting a new reading of African-American music moving across continents, through space and time. 


Joining him, Ryan Cosbert delves into a profound musical heritage of the African Diaspora. Cosbert's work operates on multiple levels, representing self-expression, political discourse, and historical narratives. Through bright and seductive abstract paintings the artist outlines the story of the Black music’s evolution. The sound waves and musical vibes which she depicts on the canvas, add the third dimension to the paintings. Furthermore, Cosbert enhances the three-dimensionality effect and creates textured  compositions, as her pieces in a grid-like format filled with geometric 'tiles', are layered with physical objects, like sand, seashells, and even microphones.


Emmanuel Massillon integrates painting, photo collage and sculpture to investigate race, identity, and complex history. Massillon's body of work is also inspired by African-American music genres. His Dog Food series represents the civil rights movement during which dogs were unleashed onto Black protestors fighting for their freedom. The main protagonist of the series – the German Shepherd – is not only a powerful symbol of the oppression towards Black people fighting for their rights in the USA, but also used to play a significant role during the criminal past of the Nazi regime. Massillon’s bright neon color palette is, on the one side, a reflection on dark and gloomy appearance of the German capital, but on the other side symbolizes all this chaos, flaming, rebellion and fear, that this dog is subconsciously associated with, connecting US and Europe’s pasts. The artist’s materials range from dog food to found objects, all integrated to create a tactile and vibrant experience for the viewer.


The exhibition presents a convergence of the unique perspectives of three artists, exploring the evolution of the music across the African Diaspora and its interaction with painting, sculpture, and visual arts. Genres from Jazz, Rock, Country, Negro Spirituals, Drill, Hip Hop, Rap, R&B, to Reggae, presented at the show, offer visitors an immersive experience that delves into the rich tapestry of African musical history and its far-reaching influence.

Darin Cooper (b. 2000, Newport News, VA, US) is a multidisciplinary artist, whose works reflect on the African American diaspora in the South. Southern culture has dramatically influenced Cooper’s art practice, who was growing up in an environment that has had so much violence, yet has so much intriguing beauty and culture. The artist tries to redefine the notion of family, a family that isn’t defined by whiteness. Cooper graduated from the School of Visual Arts in New York City with a BFA in Fine Arts. The artist’s work has been featured in solo exhibitions at James Fuentes Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, US and UTA Artist Space, Los Angeles, CA, US. Cooper participated at group exhibitions at Andrea Festa Fine Arts, Rome, IT; Bode, Berlin, DE; Swivel Gallery, Brooklyn, NY, US, among others. The artist took part at the Macedonia Institute Residency in Chatham, NY, US and has been invited to participate at Bode Art Residency in Berlin, DE. Darin Cooper lives and works in New York, NY, US.
Ryan Cosbert (b. 1999, Brooklyn, NY, US) is a conceptual artist who’s work approaches and focuses on humanistic experiences, political issues and historical narratives. Cosbert researches the history and people of the African diaspora that she uses as inspiration for her work. The artist uses tiles, paints, and physical objects giving the work more depth and a three-dimensional composition, and often incorporates physical objects in her paintings. The artist graduated from The School of Visual Arts in New York City with a BFA in Fine Arts. Cosbert’s work has been featured in solo exhibitions at UTA Artist Space, Atlanta, GA, US; Luce Gallery, Turin, IT; Undercurrent, Brooklyn, NY, US. Cosbert participated in group shows at Galerie Julien Cadet, Paris, FR; PM/AM, London, UK; Bode, Berlin, DE, The KNOW Contemporary, Los Angeles, CA, US; Roma Arte in Nuvola, Rome, IT; Mehari Sequar Gallery, Washington, DC, US, among others. The artist was recognized as a Barnes Foundation Scholarship Grantee. Ryan Cosbert lives and works in New York, NY, US.
Emmanuel Massillon (b. 1998, Washington DC, US) is a conceptual artist working with painting, photography, and sculpture. The artist explores the history of race, identity, culture and its relation to people of African descent. Music plays a crucial role in his art, directly inspired by Jazz, R&B and Rap which Massillon believes to be one of the main preservers of black culture in America. Massillon graduated from The School of Visual Arts in New York City with a BFA in Fine Arts. His work has been featured in solo exhibitions at UTA Art Space Atlanta, GA, US; Galerie Julien Cadet, Paris, FR; Swivel Gallery, Brooklyn, NY, US; The Housing Gallery, New York, NY, US. The artist participated in group shows at Luce Gallery Turin, IT; Andrea Festa Fine Art, Rome, IT; PM/AM, London, UK. Massillon received the Silas H. Rhodes Scholarship and the District of Columbia Commission on the Arts and Humanities Exhibitions Grant. The artist has been invited to participate at the Bode Art Residency in Berlin, DE. The artists’s works are part of the collections of the Baltimore Museum of Art, MD, US and of 21C Museum, Chicago, IL, US. Emmanuel Massillon lives and works between New York & Washington DC,  US.