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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.”

Interview

Sarkodie Is Not Feeling Any Pressure

The elite Ghanaian rapper affirms his king status with this seventh studio album, No Pressure.

Sarkodie is one of the most successful African rappers of all time. With over ten years of industry presence under his belt, there's no question about his prowess or skin in the game. Not only is he a pioneer of African hip-hop, he's also the most decorated African rapper, having received over 100 awards from close to 200 nominations over the span of his career.

What else does Sarkodie have to prove? For someone who has reached and stayed at the pinnacle of hip-hop for more than a decade, he's done it all. But despite that, he's still embracing new growth. One can tell just by listening to his latest album, No Pressure, Sarkodie's seventh studio album, and the follow-up to 2019's Black Love which brought us some of the Ghanaian star's best music so far. King Sark may be as big as it gets, but the scope of his music is still evolving.

Sonically, No Pressure is predominantly hip-hop, with the first ten tracks offering different blends of rap topped off with a handful of afrobeats and, finally, being crowned at the end with a gospel hip-hop cut featuring Ghanaian singer MOG. As far as the features go, Sark is known for collaborating mostly with his African peers but this time around he branches out further to feature a number of guests from around the world. Wale, Vic Mensa, and Giggs, the crème de la crème of rap in America and the UK respectively all make appearances, as well as Nigeria's Oxlade, South Africa's Cassper Nyovest, and his fellow Ghanaian artists Darkovibes and Kwesi Arthur.

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