Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe at Roberts Projects

Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe, Oko & Akwete, Roberts Projects; Image courtesy of the artist and Roberts Projects Los Angeles, California; Photo credit Mario Gallucci

One But Two (Haadzii)

Roberts Projects, Culver City
Closed July 2

Written by Eve Wood
Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe’s second exhibition at Roberts Projects expounds on the theme of monumentality within black culture, though he narrows his focus this time on the subject of twin born siblings, creating twelve large scale single paintings and diptychs that celebrate both the duality and individuality of twins.

The son of a twin, Quaicoe’s paintings create intrinsic and compelling relationships between his subjects wherein we see both their similarities and their differences. Each of the figures are dignified and passionately engaged with the world around them, and Quaicoe is sensitive to the specifics of their unique relationship to each other and how they engage with the surrounding space. For example, in “Beret Boys,” 2021, two young men stand facing forward sporting blue berets that match the carpeting beneath their feet, yet their intrinsic individual natures are revealed through the smallest details. One brother wears pink underwear that peaks thru over his shorts to showcase several small flowers applied to the canvas in a gesture that is reminiscent of the ornamental needlework tradition applique, where smaller pieces of fabric are sewn or stuck onto larger areas to form patterns or pictures. This action is at once intimate and humorous and suggests a deeper, more compelling narrative.

Other pairings within the series like “Miriam & Mabel Cellphone Chat,” 2021 are tender and joyous. Two young women stand facing each other with cellphones in hand. They are both smiling and looking at the viewer. The image is suffused with a light-hearted ease and good humor as even the cat shows a quizzical expression.

Drawing on the history of African iconography, tattoos and body art, Quaicoe embodies these traditional honorific gestures by carving directly into the paint whereby the figure’s faces, arms and legs appear curiously alive with movement. Taken metaphorically, these visceral markings are a testament to the tremendous strength and resilience of black culture. The lines dance and quiver, recede and pulse with life.

Finally, Quaicoe images celebrate the nuances of human existence, honoring the beauty and integrity of the black experience as each of these twin figures stand squarely and resplendently inside their own lives.

Roberts Projects
5801 Washington Blvd, Culver City, 90232

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