“The Beautiful Game,” Hank Willis Thomas’s first solo exhibition in London, built on his ongoing study of the relationship between sports, nationalism, and the history of slavery in the United States. Previous works have included photographs such as Scarred Chest, 2004, which shows the Nike logo digitally rendered on a black body as a raised scarification, and The Cotton Bowl, 2011, depicting a US football player in a starting pose mirrored by a man picking cotton. Here, taking the transnational legacy of European football as his focus, Thomas presented ten quilts composed like (or even directly copying) modernist paintings, made of various jerseys from teams such as Arsenal, Chelsea, and Liverpool, and rugby strips including those for New Zealand, Tonga, and South Africatheir sponsorship logos, from Adidas to Etihad, featuring prominentlyand a suite of fiberglass or
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