Pilar Corrias Eastcastle Street opens 'Twenty Thousand Years of Fire and Snow' by Sedrick Chisom

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Pilar Corrias Eastcastle Street opens 'Twenty Thousand Years of Fire and Snow' by Sedrick Chisom
Sedrick Chisom, The Occidental Tower The Capitol Citadel of The Alt-Rightland was Naturally Situated Over a Lake of Fire, 2021. Courtesy of the artist and Pilar Corrias, London.

LONDON.- Pilar Corrias is presenting an exhibition of new work by Sedrick Chisom, running 15 July – 21 August 2021 at the Eastcastle Street gallery. This is the artist’s first solo exhibition in the UK, showing paintings and drawings portraying a post-apocalyptic America. Sitting within the Afrofuturist tradition, Chisom’s imagined future is a mystical, speculative narrative which considers the histories of racism and otherness.

In Chisom’s world all people of colour have elected to leave earth, while the remaining white people have become subject to a disease which is altering the pigmentation of their skin. These remaining peoples are divided into two opposing groups, one a set of military alliances who bear resemblances to American Civil War soldiers as well as contemporary alt-right groups. They are grappling to assert their superior whiteness, even as they themselves are increasingly subject to transformation by the disease. The other group consists of the already transformed ‘monstrous peoples’. The artist’s naming of this group recalls the creation of whiteness as an idea, concepts which stretch back to medieval and classical western theories that considered non-white peoples monsters or animals, as well as sources of contagion and disease. Chisom’s imagined future exposes the racialised otherness that has dominated the history of western thought, creating new myths and new constructed realities in a fantastical and bewitching science-fiction.

The artist’s style is defined by a folkloric quality that is mystical and macabre. Strange yet familiar landscapes are peopled by haunting figures that are at once defiant and pitiable. Bold, iridescent colours communicate the peculiarity of the post-apocalyptic scene and offset the ghostlike figures, which are variously crippled, headless or zombie-like. These figures often recall familiar characters such as Medusa, Narcissus or the Angel Moroni, who in Mormon tradition is reported to have repeatedly visited John Smith and is described as excessively and ‘exquisitely’ white. Unusual weather conditions, blurred boundaries between places, and confusion between day and night mirror the breakdown of legible racial boundaries, exposing the paradox inherent in any system of categorisation. Chisom’s work is informed by a wide-ranging research process and incorporates imagery from myriad influences. Science fiction, the tropes of the American west, Christian iconography and Greek mythology blend with histories of the American Civil War and art historical references as varied as Symbolist painting, the Renaissance masters and 19th-century British illustration. Literary influences include Octavia E. Butler, Toni Morrison, Joseph Conrad and H. P. Lovecraft.

Sedrick Chisom was born in 1989 in Philadelphia, and lives and works in New York. Chisom received a full scholarship to study at Cooper Union. While at Cooper Union, Chisom received the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Foundation Award for Exceptional Ability. After completing his BFA, he received his MFA from the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. Recent solo exhibitions include Westward Shrinking Hours, Condo London in collaboration with Pilar Corrias (2020); When the Night Air Stirs, Matthew Brown Los Angeles (2019); The Final Excursion Into the Savage South, Rutgers University (2019); and The Ghost of White Presidents Yet To Come, ADA Gallery (2019). His work has been displayed in numerous group exhibitions including Cult of the Crimson Queen, Ceysson & Bénétière, New York (2020); Great Force, curated by Amber Esseiva at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Richmond (2020); Beside Myself at JTT Gallery, New York (2018); GDPR at Signal Gallery, Brooklyn (2018); and Leap Century at Abrons Art Center, New York (2018). Chisom was awarded The 2018-2019 VCU Fountainhead Fellowship in Painting and Drawing and was a 2019 resident at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture.

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