Awol Erizku: Make America Great Again

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Awol Erizku: Make America Great Again
Awol Erizku, 2016. Photo by Joshua White. © the artist. Courtesy Ben Brown Fine Arts.

Poor Donald Trump has been the object of endless art ridicule and rage. There was that painting of him with the itsy bitsy teenie weenie, the mural of him snogging Putin and now there’s Awol Erizku. The young black American artist (best known for taking the most liked Instagram photo of all time, an image of Beyoncé draped in flowers to announce her pregnancy) has filled this dark room with black panthers, broken fences and swastikas. You don’t need a PhD in nodding at art to figure out that he’s not happy.

A lot of the work here uses plywood and corrugated metal, left raw or cracked and crushed. It’s the disintegrating streets of America, dragged into the gallery and turned into ire.

A black panther stalks through the paintings, scrawled over an American flag, smashing through a white picket fence, paired with a basketball hoop and an African mask. It’s the most powerful symbol of revolutionary black anger, and Erizku splashes it across the space with vitriol.

The floor is covered with industrial black metal, hip hop pounds out of speakers, and in the centre of the room  a wooden door is graffitied with Trump’s name and a swastika. These are the broken remnants of an angry nation, laid bare.

Yes, there’s something icky about all of this political fire being for sale to the uber-rich, and the symbolism is too obvious and lacking in nuance. But Erizku clearly has something important to say. And when someone is speaking this clearly, you’d better be ready to sit up and listen.

@eddyfrankel

By: Eddy Frankel

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