An enchanted life has many moments when the heart is overwhelmed with beauty and the imagination is electrified by some haunting quality in the world or by a spirit or voice speaking from deep within a thing, a place, or a person. Enchantment may be a state of rapture and ecstasy in which the soul comes to the foreground, and the literal concerns of survival and daily preoccupation at least momentarily fade into the background.
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“Pop-culture has a lot of influence on my work. I like to re-contextualize art historical pieces with a twist of pop.” Awol Erizku
The young, Bronx-raised photographer Awol Erizku’s work is gaining considerable attention. A 2010 graduate of Cooper Union, he has managed, early in his career, the elusive feat of a solo show that opens tomorrow night at Hasted Kraeutler here in New York.
At a time when I see many young artists struggling to keep it going, someone like Awol Erizku demonstrates what is still possible. Of course, going to a prestigious school and having a mentor like David LaChapelle wouldn’t hurt anyone’s career, but Awol Erizku didn’t grow up advantaged. His portrait work reflects his community while inserting this community—through photography—into a greater art historic context, one where African American (and other people of color) are never well represented.
These photographs merit attention. They are beautiful and they captivate. In this short video Erizku’s passion and commitment to producing great work (and paying respect to his roots) look to be the real deal. I look forward to seeing the portraits first-hand and to pondering what’s next for this young artist. —Lane Nevares