Exhibition: January 14, 2016-March 13, 2016
Opening Reception: Saturday, January 16, 2016, 6-8pm
gallery nine 5 is pleased to present new works by encaustic artist, LeRone Wilson. Universal Journey, on view at the gallery from January 14 - March 6, 2016, guides the viewer through a visual story of our existence while leading them through the artists’ own self-actualization. The process of finding one’s self is a journey that we all encounter; a shared desire to reach a proverbial promise land in which we are self-aware, self-realized and ultimately self-sustained. This often requires us to educate, uneducate and re-educate ourselves in hopes that we eventually reach our epiphanic destination. Through his work, Wilson highlights this journey while also adding his own perspective not just as an artist and as a storyteller, but also as an African American in search of a spiritual and cultural identity ⎯ an identity that has been distorted and buried in the sands of time.
The obscuring of the Black identity has plagued the African American community for centuries. Accomplishments and contributions have been erased from the history books. Individuals like inventor Elijah McCoy and Olympian Wilma Rudolph have all but faded from the records. In religion, Christianity—a ruling facet in the African-American community—fixes its focus on a fair skinned Christ. In pop culture, films such as Exodus: Gods & Kings and the upcoming Gods of Egypt serve to inhume historical facts and perpetuate falsehoods by employing predominantly Caucasian casts. This so called “whitewashing” of history and culture has resulted in a tradition of miseducation. It is through Wilson’s work that he seeks to undo these errors in history.
Lerone Wilson’s work is art seeking knowledge in an ever-changing world where knowledge is often misplaced, misappropriated and, in many cases, forgotten. In pieces such as Footsteps of My Ancestors, Harkhuf, Wilson retraces the path of his forebears back to the times of ancient Egypt. In an attempt to reveal the footprints of those who
came before him, Wilson inherently assumes the role of a historian; but in the same light, dutifully deconstructs and reconstructs the paradigms of identifying one’s true self.
Although Wilson is intending to find himself through his artwork, he also seeks to do away with the restrictions that hinder such a feat. He wants us to relinquish our dependency on imagery and take time to figure out who we are, why we’re here and where we’re going. He wants us to reclaim our identity not through imagery but through abstraction; which so happens to be Wilson’s bailiwick.
Aside from the cultural context of Wilson’s work, there is also his process and his ability to encapsulate energy outward creating rich density and movement in each work. Wilson’s medium is encaustic painting, a technique dating back to the 1st century that involves using heated beeswax and pigment. The technique was most notably used in the Fayum mummy portraits and in the Blachernitissa. Ever the innovationist, Wilson takes the encaustic technique a step further, experimenting with texture, volume and movement. His process is akin to his self-discovery, Wilson builds the material then removes the excess, only to add and rebuild the wax into a desired form. The result is a new genre aptly dubbed sculpture painting. In Homage to Ra, Wilson uses his signature technique to once again reference his cultural and spiritual roots but takes the opportunity to display his carefully honed skill. Depicting a blazing sun that almost burns brighter than the one in the sky, the piece is a prime example of the dynamism of Wilson's aesthetic.
Wilson's pieces engage your senses. They demand your acknowledgement and lull you into an introspective trance that is often concluded by a philosophical awakening. Through visual narrative, they beget a progressive dialogue that allows his audience to experience what it really means to encounter their truth.
Universal Journey is a window into personal evolution; a visual translation of the metaphysical flowering of the mind, wrought by the hands of an artist who is challenging the viewer to embark on an introspective journey of self.
Wilson has been an active artist and participant in the Neo-Harlem Renaissance. His work has been featured in Museum of Biblical Art, and Phiillips de Pury Auction House, he was the winner of the 2011 Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series at Scope Miami, a nominee for the Louis Tiffany Biennial Award and winner of Best In Show at the 19th Carroll Harris Simms National Black Art Exhibition. His works are in several important private collections and has been featured in publications, including Architectural Digest, The Wall Street Journal and the Associated Press, among many others.