Heads by Awol Erizku (2013) showing at the Hasted Kraeutler Gallery in New York

A recent exhibition ‘The Only Way Is Up’ at the Hasted Kraeutler Gallery in New York features the work of Somali-born visual artist Awol Erizku. One of the pieces currently on display is his 2013 work ‘Heads’.


‘Heads’ is a collection of photographs showcasing ‘the latest wave in a long lineage of ever-evolving ways in which young black men express themselves and pay respect to their history through their follicles’. The hairstyles were created at Levels Barbershop in New York City.

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In general a lot of Erizku work focus on self discovery and his exposure to African American culture from his youth growing up in Bronx, New York. His main focus on using black protagonists in his images stem from his distress at the lack of ‘representation for people of color in art galleries. He states “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.”.

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Some of his recent works includes a recreation of Vermeer’s 1665 piece ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ in which Erizku substitutes the caucasian model for an African American model. He titled the 2009 work ‘Girl with the Bamboo Earring’and Caravaggio’s classic ‘Young Sick Bacchus’ remixed to Erizku’s ‘Boy Holding Grapes’.

‘The Only Way Is Up’ is currently showing at the Hasted Kraeutler Gallery until August 15, 2014.

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