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Artist Awol Erizku’s ‘Bad II the Bone’ Takes Abstraction to the Streets

The 27-year-old artist's new show opens at Night Gallery in LA this Saturday.

by Antwaun Sargent
Jan 14 2016, 10:00pm

Awol Erizku. 'Ask the Dust' and 'Rolling Stones.' Photo courtesy of the artist

Have you ever wondered about the connection between basketball and Duchamp? Or sex workers and classical paintings? Artist Awol Erizku has. These are some of the raw materials, inspirations, and issues at work in the 27-year-old's bold and fascinating work.

In his first solo show since moving to Los Angeles from New York, Erizku will present Bad II the Bone. The exhibition, which opens this Saturday, marks the first show by the artist's conceptual gallery Duchamp Detox Clinic.

Awol Erizku. 'Jumpman, Jumpman, Jumpman, Them Boys Up to Something' (2015). Photo courtesy of the artist

"The idea behind the clinic is it's not fixed to one permanent location," said Erizku, who counts Marcel Duchamp, the gallery's namesake, as an influence. "I'm doing the first show to set the bar and let people know what to expect from the Clinic's programing." The gallery will feature artists who are not yet on the radar, and the physical location will change to better fit each artist's ideas.

It's been a busy time for the "Art World's New It Boy" (and occasional VICE contributor), who recently exhibited New Flower, a photography series of Ethiopian sex workers, at the Flag Arts Foundation and premiered his film Serendipity, an exploration of love, race, and Western ideas of beauty, at MoMA.

For the Clinic's first show, presented at the prominent Night Gallery, the Ethiopian-born, South Bronx-raised artist will break away from photography like he did for his 2014 solo show, The Only Way Is Up. Erizku will show new works of readymade road-sign sculptures, his infamous graffiti "gang paintings," and abstract basketball hoop backboard paintings. All the work is made from everyday things like house paint and plastic and objects such as rocks. The show will also display a collaboration with florist Sarah Lineberger called Ask the Dust. The large-scale sculptural work features an old, beat-up Porsche overgrown with indigenous California plants and silk flowers. Erizku sums up the show as his way of "taking the elements of the streets and bringing them back into abstraction."

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Bad II the Bone opens Saturday, January 17 through Friday, February 13 at Night Gallery in Los Angeles. Check out the website.