One of the works by Frohawk Two Feathers at Taylor De Cordoba
Last night we went to Culver City to see an amazing art exhibition at Taylor De Cordoba. It is always an exciting evening when the galleries in Culver City coordinate their openings on the same night and you can walk up and down La Cienega and Washington Boulevards visiting multiple galleries and see so much great art in one evening.
But last night our destination was Taylor De Cordoba gallery where we were excited to see the latest exhibition of art work by one of my favorite artists Frohawk Two Feathers. This new series of mixed media, paintings, and drawings by the Los Angeles-based artist is called "Crocodile Company, Part 1. La Guerre des Machettes Danceuses (The War of The Dancing Machetes)." I think he is one of the most exciting and original artists working today.
The artist tells a wartime narrative starring an imagined cast of fascinating characters. It is the history of the "Frenglish Empire," a fictitious blending of 18th-century imperial England and France, and this show focuses on his reinterpretation of the Haitian War of Knives. Taylor De Cordoba writes, "Using two classic traditions of both painting and mapmaking, Two Feathers communicates a tragic, yet often humorous story that, through a slight of hand and bristle of the brush retell and reshape historical roles of race, class, and gender. Originally trained in photography, the artist uses elaborately staged photographs of friends and family as the source material for the final portraits on view."
He is a master storyteller, spinning tales of colonialism, imperialism, and conquest with his entirely unique iconography. He is known for his master narratives, vivid re-imaginings of imperial history, and playful revival of colonial portraiture.
As with his previous bodies of work, each series functions as a chapter in a never-ending tome. Set in 1789 in the Caribbean, "The War of the Dancing Machetes" is a story of assassination, slavery and the fight for power. Deadly clashes between the black ruling class and "The Crocodile Company" drive this story. The artist loosely based this series on the actual "War of Knives" that was fought as a precursor to Haitian independence.
This is his third solo show at Taylor De Cordoba and in it he continues to interpret the events surrounding Haiti's historical struggle for independence. He fills his fictional world with imaginary characters such as soldiers, nobility, and other players in this historical drama.
For me this exhibition represents a maturity and growing talent in this very original artist who has created a fictitious world, as complex and fascinating as any one I can think of in the art world today. For some reason it has always made me think of the fictitious world made up by Emily and Charlotte Bronte in their youth, a figment of imagination so fully realized as to sustain their lonely lives. There is something of that haunting and beautiful quality in Frohawk Two Feather's work that makes me think he has many, many more stories to tell us. He is truly an original artist.
Don't miss this fascinating exhibition at Taylor De Cordoba. It runs through March 26, 2011.