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Awol Erizku Gives The Great Art Masters 21st Century Updates In 'The Only Way is Up'

Ethiopian-born artist Awol Erizku gives the great art masters 21st century updates in The Only Way is Up at NYC's Hasted Kraeutler Gallery.

The Only Way is Up for emerging talent Awol Erizku after debuting his photo, sculpture, and installation exhibition at the Hasted Kraeutler Gallery in New York City. Born in Ethiopia, 26-year old Erizku wants to remove the “black art” connotation from artistic dialogues. It’s a very bold approach for such a young artist, but Erizku’s latest exhibition tells us that he is ambitious and serious about it.


The Only Way Is Up debuted in June 2014 and it sought to give the great art masters “21st century updates.” According to Hasted Kraeutler's website, the show took its title from a Quincy Jones record and consists of "re-contextualized and re-purposed ready-made objects." In an interview with Complex, Erizku explained “With the show, I am trying to create a new vernacular, in terms of how you see my work and black art as being universal.”

Erizku, who completed his B.A. at the Cooper Union in 2010 and received his M.F.A. from Yale, recently curated a group show entitled Deep End: Yale MFA Photo 2014, a presentation of work by photography recent graduates at Yale. The exhibition is currently on its third and final run at the Los Angeles gallery Diane Rosenstein Fine Art. The show features photography, video, sound installation, textiles, sculpture, performance, and mixed media by five men and five women who are testing the limits of their chosen medium.

Erizku says his first inspiration came from the Bronx where he wanted to paint a more positive outlook on the youth of his community who were subjects of harsh and critical stereotypes. Though Erizku’s subjects may appear mundane or even unappealing to some, he seeks to bridge the gap on how people define beauty by working with these “unappealing” subjects. “‘Hidden in plain sight’ in my work extends to the people I photograph," he told Palladium Boots. "To me, they are beautiful but they aren’t models. Finding a regular person and seeing the beauty in them and wanting to work with them and photograph them is a kind of discovery.”

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The ornate gilded copper headgear, which features images of Jesus Christ and the Twelve Apostles, was unearthed after refugee-turned-Dutch-citizen Sirak Asfaw contacted Dutch 'art detective' Arthur Brand. (Photo by Jan HENNOP/AFP) (Photo by JAN HENNOP/AFP via Getty Images)

A Stolen 18th Century Ethiopian Crown Has Been Returned from The Netherlands

The crown had been hidden in a Dutch apartment for 20 years.

In one of the latest developments around art repatriation, a stolen 18th century Ethiopian crown that was discovered decades ago in the Netherlands, has been sent back home.

Sirak Asfaw, an Ethiopian who fled to The Netherlands in the '70s, first found the relic in the suitcase of a visitor in 1998, reports BBC Africa. He reportedly protected the item for two decades, before informing Dutch "art crime investigator" Arthur Brand and authorities about his discovery last year.

The crown is one of only 20 in existence and features intricate Biblical depictions of Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit. Historians believe it was given to the church by the warlord Welde Sellase several centuries ago.

Read: Bringing African Artifacts Home

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ATLANTA, GEORGIA - FEBRUARY 16: Yvonne Orji performs onstage during her "Lagos to Laurel" tour at Buckhead Theatre on February 16, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images)

Yvonne Orji's First Comedy Special Is Headed to HBO

The special is being tapped at Howard University this month.

Yvonee Orji is bringing her comedic chops center stage with the premiere of her first-ever comedy special on HBO.

The comedian and Insecure star who is currently embarking on her "Lagos to Laurel" comedy tour, will shoot the hour-long special in front of a live audience at Howard University this month, reports Deadline. It looks like Orji's Nigerian heritage will be a central point during the show, as the special will also include footage shot in Lagos last month.

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Stormzy performs during The BRIT Awards 2020 at The O2 Arena. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage) via Getty Images.

Watch Stormzy's Powerful BRIT Awards Performance Featuring Burna Boy

The night saw the British-Ghanaian star run through a medley of songs from his latest album, Heavy Is the Head.

The BRIT Awards 2020, which went down earlier this week, saw the likes of Stormzy take home the Best Male trophy home and Dave win Best Album.

The night also saw Stormzy deliver a stunning performance that featured a medley of songs from his latest album, Heavy Is the Head. The British-Ghanaian star started things out slow with "Don't Forget to Breathe," before popping things off with "Do Better" then turning up the heat with "Wiley Flow."

Stormzy nodded to J Hus, playing a short bit of "Fortune Teller," before being joined onstage by Nigeria's Burna Boy to perform their hit "Own It." Burna Boy got his own moment and performed an energetic rendition of his African Giant favorite "Anybody."

The night was closed off with a powerful message that read: "A lot of time they tell us 'Black people, we too loud.' Know what I'm sayin'? We need to turn it down a little bit. We seem too arrogant. We a little too much for them to handle. Black is beautiful man." The message flashed on a black screen before a moving performance of "Rainfall" backed by his posse.

Watch the full performance below.

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Still from Youtube.

Watch Samba Yonga's Kick-Ass TED Talk on an 'African Superhero Curriculum'

The co-founder of the Zambian Women's History Museum speaks about the importance of indigenous knowledge in creating Africa's own superheroes.

Co-founder of the Zambian Women's History Museum, Samba Yonga, is on a mission to reclaim Africa's history and indigenous knowledge in a way that allows Africans to centre themselves in their own narratives and become their own superheroes.

She recently spoke at TEDxLusaka about developing a "blueprint for the African superhero curriculum". It's the TED talk that you definitely need to watch this year.

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