Ben Brown Fine Arts open their third solo exhibition of artist Awol Erizku
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Ben Brown Fine Arts open their third solo exhibition of artist Awol Erizku
Installation view, Awol Erizku Cosmic Drill at Ben Brown Fine Arts London, 2023 (c) Ben Brown Fine Arts. Photo credit Tom Carter.

LONDON.- Ben Brown Fine Arts is presenting Cosmic Drill, their third solo exhibition of Los Angeles-based artist Awol Erizku. The exhibition follows his highly acclaimed shows with Ben Brown Fine Arts, 慢慢燃燒 Slow Burn (Hong Kong, 2018) and Make America Great Again (London, 2017). This exhibition unveiled an alluring new body of work that converges the mediums of painting, photography and sculpture, while harnessing myriad influences including street markings, hip-hop music, basketball, and NASA telescopic data.

Cosmic Drill features large-scale mixed media paintings and a seminal marble sculpture, as well as a conceptual mix-tape produced specifically for the exhibition. The paintings are executed upon industrial aluminium surfaces directly emblazoned with photographic imagery that includes pictures of the cosmos captured by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and exposed parts of photographic film, taken from the 35mm camera Erizku uses to document his daily studio activities. These paintings are influenced by the neighborhood tags – graffiti artist territory-marking ‘signatures’ – seen across Los Angeles on public spaces and exteriors of business establishments. These are often ‘cleaned up’ with mismatched paint or removed with a buffing process, an aesthetic alluded to in the brightly spray-painted sections of these new works. Also included in the exhibition is the totemic sculpture Head Crack (Stack or Starve), comprising three large-scale, stacked dice rendered from Black Absolute granite, Verde Malachite marble and a Red Jasper from Madagascar, making up the colours of the pan-African flag and signifying the ‘game of luck’ that is life.

Erizku is distinguished for his unique visual language and distinctive iconography that address issues of race, identity, politics and cultural history, while drawing from references spanning urban culture to the art historical canon. Cosmic Drill presents a conceptually dynamic and visually powerful new body of work, a sublime perpetuation and culmination of the artist’s achievements in photography, painting, sculpture and mixed media.

Born in Gondar, Ethiopia, in 1988, Awol Erizku received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from The Cooper Union, New York, NY and a Master of Fine Arts from the Yale School of Art, New Haven, CT. Erizku’s work has been exhibited at prominent institutions including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, NY; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY; Museum of Contemporary Art in Toronto, ON; Crystal Bridges Museum of Art, Bentonville, AR; Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco, CA; and FLAG Art Foundation, New York, NY. His photographs of cultural and creative leaders have been featured in The New Yorker, New York Magazine, GQ, and Vanity Fair, and in 2021 the Public Art Fund exhibited his work throughout New York, NY and Chicago, IL. Erizku's works are included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; Norton Museum of Art, Palm Beach, FL; Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Los Angeles, CA; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Norwich; Santa Barbara Museum of Art, CA; By Art Matters (Hangzhou Contemporary Art Museum), Hangzhou; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY, among others. Erizku lives and works between Los Angeles, CA and New York, NY.

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