New Delhi: A virtual exhibition dedicated to the promotion and empowerment of Black Art, featuring the works of 22 Black artists, is available to admirers online and for sale, too.
The show titled "Say It Loud (I'm Black and I'm Proud)", features artists exploring the notion of identity and perception. Named after the 1968 James Brown anthem "Say it Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud," this is the first in a series of exhibitions and educational initiatives by Christie's and visionary curator Destinee Ross-Sutton. The exhibit is organised by the auction house's CSR Diversity & Inclusion Initiatives, which provides a necessary platform for the Black Art community's voices to be amplified and empowered.
"Incorporating deeply personal aspects, each of these artists uses their medium as guiding forces to construct images of identity – whether it be their own, of a society or an overlooked community – in order to empower voices that have traditionally been silenced," the auction house said.
Adding, "The vulnerability of identity is showcased in these works, either conspicuously, as with the work of both Josh Paige who depicts Black men with targets on their bodies, and Nelson Makamo who confronts Black stereotypes head-on, or more subtly, as with the work of Yoyo Lander and Barry Yusufu who evoke universal emotionality and the vulnerability of time and progress, respectively."
Among the exhibits is artist Nelson Makamo's 'Untitled', from Blue Series, 2020. Makamo is best known for his charcoal and oil paintings of young women, men and children who are redressing decades of images that have perpetuated the stereotype that African people are destitute. His work provides a source of hope and optimism. He has been committed to distracting from that demeaning image by portraying African people in a manner that reverses this type of thinking.
'Say It Loud' features Collins Obijiaku's Untitled, 2020 — a prime example of the artist's celebration of blackness through elegantly-constructed portraits. Through their gaze, the viewer is to be transported into a world where black people exist as themselves, innately elegant and unfazed by the world and its never-ending constructs.
Artist Yoyo Lander's two works in the exhibition include 'The Deeper Longing is Greater Than Discomfort', 2020. Lander's works prove to inhabit a distinct contrast in shade and colour. She achieves this by painting in watercolours and collaging her own works together – repurposing them into fragile portraits of identity.
Christie's says, "As these artists play upon perception, they call attention to the historical perception of 'Blackness' and put it on its head, ambitiously challenging the viewer to redefine their pre-conceived and systematically-taught notions of Black perception and identity. Exhibited works live in their own self-constructed worlds, urging us to confront perceptions of Black identity, the value we place on the healing conversations and commitments necessary to move our society forward."
Notably, there has been a strong focus on Black identity following the recent protests in America and the world, registering popular anger after a Black man George Floyd died during an arrest for allegedly using a 20-dollar counterfeit note. The 'Black Lives Matter' movement also saw widespread resonance in India. The exhibition opened online on July 31 and runs till August 18.