Awol Erizku: The Only Way Is Up
With an undeniable style, 26-year-old Awol Erizku hails from Brooklyn and brings with him an exclusive array of talent and disparity in his new show 'The Only Way Is Up.' Erizku’s works spread across a wide range of platforms including photography, film, and sculpture. His intentions are to create an aesthetic that highlights on the meagerness of blacks throughout art history. His works have therefore been said to mimic a classical oeuvre while integrating people of color.
Erizku completed his B.A. degree at the Cooper Union in 2010, and has also recently attained his M.F.A. from Yale. His works have been on display alongside those of noted photographers such as Duane Michals and Richard Prince at the FLAG Art Foundation in 2011.
In an interview conducted by Palladium introducing the artist, Erizku identifies his inspirations and passions, which have allowed him to be the artist that he is today. He states that his first inspiration came from the Bronx where he wanted to paint a more positive outlook on the youth of his community who were subjects of harsh and critical stereotypes expressing delinquency. Although Erizku’s subjects may appear regular or unappealing to others, he still finds the beauty in working with them. He states, “‘Hidden in plain sight’ in my work extends to the people I photograph. To me, they are beautiful but they aren’t models. Finding a regular person and seeing the beauty in them and wanting to work with them and photograph them is a kind of discovery.”
Erizku’s inclination for photographing such banal aspects of life is also expressed through his sculptures and paintings, evoking passionate feelings within the viewer. Today the artist strives to create an environment filled with a unique aesthetic, shedding a positive light on the youth and blacks across the urban culture of New York City. Erizku’s exhibit titled The Only Way is Up is now open at the Hasted Kraeutler gallery located at 537 West 24th Street, Manhattan, New York.
Text and photographs by Chad Smith.
Mixed media with seven regulation size basketball rims, 24 karat gold plated nets, and Spalding NBA Brooklyn Nets team basketball, 148 x 19 x 24 1/2 inches // The Man, 2014, Mixed media with, African mask, steel, and stone, 130 x 10 x 17 inches (Images courtesy of Hasted Kraeutler)