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The Andy Warhol Museum presents large-scale paintings and drawings by Firelei BŠez
Firelei BŠez, Can I Pass? Introducing the Paper Bag to Fan Test for the Month of June, 2011, courtesy the artist and Gallery Wendi Norris, San Francisco, image courtesy of Pťrez Art Museum Miami, courtesy of Freese Family Collection, California, photo by STUDIO LHOOQ.

PITTSBURGH, PA.- The Andy Warhol Museum announces Firelei BŠez: Bloodlines, opening February 17, 2017. BŠez, born in Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic, creates large-scale paintings and drawings that explore gender, race, and the history of social movements in the Unites States and the Caribbean. The exhibition includes four new works exhibited for the first time in a museum.

“Firelei BŠez is a contemporary force. Her work challenges the viewer to think critically about historical systems of oppression still at work in the present day,” says Jessica Beck, The Warhol’s associate curator of art. “The work is beautiful and sumptuous, but the beauty is overlaid with subversive messages about race and power. The women depicted in her work, although mythical, are grounded in the present and adorned with contemporary and historical patterns of resistance.”

BŠez probes the ambiguity of race with works like Can I Pass? Introducing the Paper Bag to Fan Test for the Month of June, which shares the complexities of identity politics at work in much of Andy Warhol’s practice.

BŠez explores Caribbean histories, folklore, and diasporic narratives from a female viewpoint, revealing histories that are not always highlighted in mainstream culture. The labor intensive, delicate, and colorful works depict textiles, hair designs, and body ornaments that showcase female subjects as strongly connected to both a past and present.

In several paintings women are featured in elaborate tignons, 18th century headdresses imposed by law for women of color in New Orleans and a tradition that although imposed as a form of oppression became, through elaborate patterning and design, a symbol of power and beauty. Also featured in several works are Azabache, gemstones carved into fists and worn in Latin American cultures as protection from evil spirits, and panthers, a symbol claimed by the Black Panthers, the African American revolutionary party founded in the 1960s.

Bloodlines features 17 works, including four new works that are exhibited in a museum for the first time. BŠez will create a site-specific artwork in the exhibition space in The Warhol’s second floor galleries. Created with students from the local community, the wall painting points to BŠez’s belief in painting as ritualistic and ultimately communal.

Accompanying the exhibition is the catalogue Firelei BŠez: Bloodlines, published by The Pťrez Art Museum Miami, with an introduction by the museum’s Director Franklin Sirmans, an essay by Assistant Curator MarŪa Elena Ortiz, an interview with Naima Keith, and a contribution by writer Roxane Gay. It will be available in The Warhol Store.

Firelei BŠez was born in Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic, and lives and works in New York. She received a Master of Fine Arts from Hunter College and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from The Cooper Union School of Art and studied at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. She has had solo exhibitions at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art and at Pťrez Art Museum Miami, as well as residencies at Headlands Center for the Arts, the Joan Mitchell Center, the Fine Arts Work Center, Lower East Side Printshop, and Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace. She received the Joan Mitchell Painters and Sculptors award, the Jacques and Natasha Gelman award in painting, the Catherine Doctorow Prize for Contemporary Painting, and the Chiaro Award from the Headlands.

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