Referring to Jan Vermeer, the American artist Awol Erizku (* 1988) created his ‘Girl with a Bamboo Earring‘, 2009. C-print, 165 x 127 cm. lim. Edition 5 copies. Photo Copyright © Awol Erizku. Please request the exposé here: Conatct Gallery

About this Artwork

Erizku scouts models online and on the streets to sit for classical portraits, and his images often riff off art history’s most renowned nameless women. “Girl with the Pearl Earring,” for example, becomes “Girl with the Bamboo Earring,” and “Lady with an Ermine,” becomes “Lady with a Pitbull.” Leopard print and Louis Vuitton replace fur stoles and family crests. What saves the works from falling into a formulaic gimmick is their cinematic intensity; it’s not surprising that Erizku began his artistic career in film. The models are removed from the present moment yet still float somewhere between their contemporary garb and the historical ghosts they inhabit. There is an honesty to their expressions despite the fact that we’re staring at pure fiction.

About Awol Erizku

Awol Erizku (born 1988) is an American of Ethiopian origins, contemporary artist who lives and works in New York & Los Angeles. His primary media are Painting, Photography, Sculpture and Video installation, which are centered upon subjects of color. In his words, “There are not that many colored people in the galleries that I went to [growing up] or the museums that I went to. I was just like, when I become an artist I have to put my two cents in this world.” He does this in a critically acclaimed series of photographic portraits, re-crafting famous painted portraits by artists like Vermeer and Caravaggio by replacing their white subjects with contemporary black ones. By re-staging these and other iconic works of art, Erizku engages in critical discourse with the past, cracking open the canon with historically repressed voices.