Awol Erizku Reflects on “Memories of a Lost Sphinx” at Gagosian

Awol Erizku is an Ethiopian-American artist whose work draws on the vast expanse of history to create a counter-narrative to the largely Western discourse on African culture. Last week, the multi-disciplinary artist unveiled a new solo exhibition at Gagosian, titled “Memories of a Lost Sphinx.”

Set against a black-painted interior, a series of six lightbox photographs and an accompanying sculpture ruminates on the fabled sphinx as a complex, cross-cultural symbol that extends between and beyond Ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Asian mythologies. “My first encounter with the Great Sphinx of Giza led me to produce my own interpretation of the mystique and essence of the sphinx as a concept. The result is my interpolation of the space between my memory and imagination,” said the artist.

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The constellation of images jumps from lions and falcons floating in the cosmos, a tarantula clamped against a man’s face, to the back of Kevin Durant’s head adjacent to a neighboring hyperrealistic portrait of a snake. Instead of presenting any singular narrative, Erizku uses this grouping to explore issues of identity in regards to the sphinx as a hybrid symbol that embodies riddles, wisdom, divinity, thresholds, and the transition between life and death.

Further bridging the symbols into the present, the Los Angeles-based artist illuminates the space with Nefertiti – Miles Davis (Gold) — a glowing disco ball named after the seminal musician’s 1968 album of the same name. Organized by Antwaun Sargent, “Memories of a Lost Sphinx” is on view at Gagosian New York until April 16, 2022.

In case you missed it, art marketplace Her Clique is highlighting female artists who are selling works to aid Ukraine.

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