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Earlier this month, Venus Over Manhattan introduced its new gallery space at 120 East 65th Street with Andrew LaMar Hopkins’s debut solo show in New York, “Créolité.” Curated by Alison M. Gingeras, the exhibition features a selection of new portraits, miniatures, and architectural tableaux exploring the artist’s interpretation of the lush cultural landscape behind the term créolité.
The term has been deemed a state of mind and unifying theme for members of the Black diaspora, first coined as an empowering post-colonial identity that embraced Creole culture, language, and heritage. Hopkins’s exhibition draws from his own family history and antiquarian expertise to propose an idealized history of the antebellum South, following explorations of the idea of créolité by Francophones like Patrick Chamoiseau, Édouard Gllissant, Jean Bernabé, and Raphaël Confiant.
Hopkins has painted a visual utopia that encompasses histories that often went repressed or unrecorded, taking into account the original diversity of the term “Creole” (a non-racial designation for those born in the French territory of Louisiana). The artist has created scenes inspired by the French Quarter, imagined under the guise of what the neighborhood might have looked like in the 1800s, often using imagery that forgoes concepts of racial hierarchy or includes homosocial and queer scenarios.
The livelihood of the Creole people and their homes are captured through exquisitely detailed scenes and intoxicating colors, like an outdoor scene in hues of blue entitled Old Creole Days, the portrait New Orleans Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau, a noble couple and their child captured in a lavish interior titled Creole Tranquility, and a selection of 5 x 4 inches miniature portraits like Judy Telfair Jackson and Her Granddaughter Lavinia.
Open through November 6, the show is accompanied by an illustrated publication, which features an introduction from the curator, as well as an interview with and archival images selected by the artist.