Sean Kelly Gallery at Frieze Los Angeles 2024, Stand A18

Art Martin Cid Magazine
Art Martin Cid Magazine

Sean Kelly is delighted to return to Frieze Los Angeles, where we will present an immersive environment by LA-based conceptual artist, Awol Erizku. Blending symbols from both Western and non-Western practices, Erizku engages visual tropes from Contemporary, African, and Black American cultures across the diaspora. In his work, Erizku renounces Eurocentric notions of beauty and art history in favor of shaping his own unique Afrocentric vernacular and aesthetics, one he refers to as “Afro-esotericism.”

Erizku’s presentation at Frieze Los Angeles includes powerful, symbolic imagery that transcends centuries and cultures, offering unique perspectives on traditional interpretations of beauty. To create this environment, inspired by a recent research trip to The Andy Warhol Museum, Erizku will paint the booth dark grey and silk-screen it floor-to-ceiling with likenesses of the 18th Dynasty Egyptian Queen, Nefertiti. Calling upon sources and inspirations as varied as Ancient Egypt, Marcel Duchamp, hip-hop and contemporary culture, the variety of photographs, lightbox, silkscreen, and neon works highlight the breadth of Erizku’s expansive practice.

In one key work, Erizku uses a postcard of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, 1503, as his point of reference. Informed by Duchamp’s infamous readymade, L.H.O.O.Q., 1919—comprised of a postcard upon which the artist drew a mustache and beard on the Mona Lisa—in this work, Erizku depicts the infamous subject with a zipper adhered to her face, a reference to artist David Hammons’ iconic Fly Jar, 1996. Twelve Nefertitis, features a grid of silkscreened images of the iconic subject in the colors of the Pan-African Flag, a reference to the technique made famous by pop artist Andy Warhol.

Neon has also been a key medium throughout Erizku’s oeuvre; the neon work featured on the booth is produced in a fashion reminiscent of nail salon signage, further exploring images of beauty in metropolitan culture and advertising. Other photographic works, spanning the last several years, offer an overview of images of idealized beauty from the natural world, cultural ephemera, and everyday objects. The installation also acknowledges the essential role music plays throughout Erizku’s work and is accompanied by a playlist which can be accessed via the QR code on the booth.

This solo presentation provides a focused survey of Erizku’s uniquely resonant visual language and invokes aspects of his recently coined term “Trap Conceptualism.” It coincides with his first institutional solo exhibition at the SCAD Museum of Art in Savannah, Georgia, now on view through July 3, 2024, and precedes his forthcoming exhibition at The Momentary/Crystal Bridges, Bentonville, AK, which opens in May 2024.

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