Simchowitz Gallery is pleased to present Days of Present Past by Paris and New York-based artist Pharaoh Kakudji. The exhibition opens Wednesday, October 11th at our DTLA gallery (725 E Washington Blvd, LA 90021), and will be on view through November 4.
Pharaoh Kakudji was born in Paris, grew up in the South of France, and moved to New York in 2019. While his practice includes photography, video, textiles and sculpture, it was in New York where he discovered the material for which he is best known for—used poster paper pulled directly from building facades and billboards alike. Kakudji discovered the material somewhat out of desperation, given that he couldn't afford canvases at the time. Similar to his spiritual forefather, Mimmo Rotella, he quickly recognised the material's inherent beauty—the beauty of its tangible degradation, the beauty of its ties to the street and the beauty of its physical presence.
Kakudji enjoys the fact that no two pieces of material are ever the same. Some come off the wall in robust, massive sheets, while others wind up being emaciated and anemic. Such qualities then, often inspire the drawings in which he commits to their surface. Many of his more intimate works for example, feature dreamlike (or nightmarish) scenarios. Misunderstood Disruption (2021) features the artist bound by heavy wire cables, which have been cut, while in the background, smaller images of himself can be seen sprouting wings and flying away near a door that opens to a darkness beyond. Then, there are his more overt, intense scenarios such as Long Day (2020), which could act as a one-sheet for an action movie—complete with gun play, car chases, and characters in white masks, yet all the characters are played by Kakudji himself.
Taken as a whole, Kakudji's paintings and drawings can be seen as a kind of dream diary, which ultimately conveys the artist's hopes, dreams and fears. Yet at the same time, Kakudji claims that his work is meant to be universal, capturing the problems and issues facing his own generation. "Painting is a way to express what I see and feel in life," explains Kakudji. "And then I also draw inspiration from the different cultures that I grew up in and with. I am a witness to our generation [and I am] representing what I see in a certain way."
Pharaoh Kakudji is a French artist of American, Congolese and Spanish origin, working in between Paris, New York, and Los Angeles. He works with several mediums including painting, drawing, photography, video, textiles and sculpture. This is his second solo exhibition at Simchowitz Gallery. The first, Shake the Fog, opened in November 2021. Kakudji recently had a solo exhibition at Stems Gallery in Paris, France, Tear a Part, Torn a Part which opened in May 2022 and was the first exhibition for the Paris location of the Belgium-based gallery. Kakudji has been included in several group shows including: In Defense of Poetry at The Trops, Paris (Feb 2023); Couleur des Tenebres at 3537, Paris (July 2023); LAX to CDG at the Stems Gallery (June 2023) and Mirror Gazing at the Pit in LA (November 2020)
Press release courtesy Simchowitz Gallery.