Christie's presents 'Say It Loud II: Visionaries of Self' in partnership with Destinee Ross-Sutton

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Christie's presents 'Say It Loud II: Visionaries of Self' in partnership with Destinee Ross-Sutton
Jon Key (b. 1990), The Man in the Violet Suit (Red No. 1). Screenprint in colors with varnish, on Somerset paper, image: 23 ¾ x 29 7/8 in. Sheet: 27 ¾ x 34 in. Executed in 2021. © Christie's Images Ltd 2021.

NEW YORK, NY.- Christie’s, in partnership with visionary curator Destinee Ross-Sutton, announced the second edition of Say It Loud: Visionaries of Self from August 5-19. The exhibition is also accompanied by a robust schedule of educational programming including a compensated course on business skills for artists hosted by Christie’s Education. In continuing the Say it Loud exhibition series, Christie’s aims to provide a necessary and ongoing global platform for the amplification and celebration of individual Black artists’ distinct perspectives, narratives and lenses.

This year, Say It Loud: Visionaries of Self features 32 works presented in an online auction format, complemented by an exhibition at Christie’s New York galleries, with 100% of proceeds going directly to the artists and their representatives. A portion of remitted proceeds will go toward funding the BLACK ARTIST COLLECTIVE, a foundation founded by co-curator Destinee Ross-Sutton to help promote and support in particular young and emerging African and LGTBQ+ artists of color. This iteration showcases an exceptional international mix of returning talent — Nelson Makamo, Khari Turner, Joshua Michael Adokuru, Isshaq Ismail, and The Love Child — alongside a new selection of 17 emerging and established mid-career artists such as Gherdai Hassell, Sarah Dahir, Hebru Brantley and acclaimed artist Zanele Muholi. Consisting of predominantly figural works, this tightly-curated grouping unites a rich diversity of individual voices, creative practices, and a myriad of cultural and social experiences through stimulating renderings of the human form.

Among the highlights of the exhibit is David ‘Mr. Starcity’ White, an American multidisciplinary visual artist whose work spans a diverse range of media. As an advocate of emotional well-being and mental health awareness, Mr. Starcity channels the healing power of art to uplift spirits and inspire positive change. The work presented in this exhibition, A Lucky Man is a sculpturally textured work that is both vibrant and rough — it is intended to bring joy, and encourage viewers to show appreciation and affection to one another, but also to serve as a metaphor for the difficult environment from where the subject may have come.

Below the scratched surface of the subject’s face is an almost imperceptible glimpse of colorful amoeba shaped, abstract patterns, giving the viewer insight into the world of those affected by trauma, mental illness and systemic stigmas, hinting at the notion that there is more to someone than what is superficially perceived. With an imbued sense of sympathy and understanding for others, viewers are encouraged to love and embrace one another, literally giving flowers in abundance — to man, or woman — as a gesture of love, completely void of romance or judgement.

Artist Ronald Jackson is represented in the sale with On a Vintage Summer Day. Jackson’s work features individuals from his imagination, used to represent African-American ancestors, typically from the time of the great migration of Black Americans from the South (1900s-1970s). He reflects on contemporary issues through the lens of past experiences — archived from the stories that are passed down from previous generation.

Jackson is a self-taught artist who uses his practice as a means to process and understand the influences on his life and how they compel from within a greater sense of humanity towards others. In his portraits, subjects are masked as a way to disrupt the normal gaze upon an individual and to suggest an element of mystery — they entice the viewer’s curiosity and leads them to explore more than an identity, but rather, a story.

The exhibition also features two works by Johnson Eziefula including Gloria’s Trip to Paris, the first piece from his latest body of work, “Home away from Home.” Delving into the relationship between migration and cultural hybridization, this series reveals how hybrid identities are born out of globalization. Gloria, the subject of the present work, is mentally present in Paris; she lays comfortably on a bed gazing out at the viewer, having just put down a French novel, Honoré de Balzac’s La Cuisine Bette. By highlighting the interrelationships between the subject’s African origin, and her obvious interest in French and Western culture, Gloria exists in different cities and environments simultaneously. Eziefula’s work beautifully captures how diverse and conflicting cultures can coexist harmoniously.

Eziefula specializes in drawings and paintings using various media including charcoal, acrylic and pastel on paper and canvas. His works balance and bridge the gap between reality and his imagination, while addressing the themes of cultural hybridity, Blackness, pop-culture, identity, personality and human psychology. He aims to depict his observations, personal encounters, and curiosities through the combinations of color, shapes, portraiture and symbolism. Eziefula views art as a coping mechanism and an instrument to awaken social consciousness and self-awareness in his quest to achieve his vision for a better world.

Destinee Ross-Sutton, Curator, commented: “I am excited to share with you the second iteration of Say It Loud, my collaboration with Christie’s highlighting voices in art from the African diaspora. Continuing the contextualization of this narrative allows us to explore the momentum created with last year’s show — yet, with a focus on the artists’ humanity and perspectives, elevating it beyond the potential “constraints” of the concept of Blackness (for better or for worse!). In turn, this view of Self centers the artist. As we do better in leveling the playing field, the importance of living artists being given the space to safely explore the full scope their humanity in multiple aspects becomes paramount. Black Artists exist beyond and in some cases in spite of their Blackness.”

Celine Cunha, Founder and Co-Chairman of CSR Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at Christie’s, remarked: “We’re delighted to be launching the second iteration of Say It Loud in partnership with visionary curator Destinee Ross-Sutton, using the Christie’s space and global reach to showcase the work of exceptional Black artists exploring individuality and perception. It was imperative that an uncensored platform be offered to optimize creative expression, and that the artists be empowered to frame their own representation. It was also vital that the artists benefit directly, so in Say It Loud the artists and their representatives are receiving 100% of the proceeds of their sales.”

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