From Beyoncé’s Bump to Anti-Trump: Artist Awol Erizku Seizes the Spotlight Again

The photographer has his first European solo art show.

Awol Erizku. Courtesy of Jared Siskin, © Patrick McMullan.
Awol Erizku. Courtesy of Jared Siskin, © Patrick McMullan

The meteoric rise of 28-year-old artist Awol Erizku continues, with the New York Times previewing his politically charged exhibition “Make America Great Again,” opening April 20 at Ben Brown Fine Arts in London.

Having already made his institutional debut at a FLAG Art Foundation group show, debuted a film at a PopRally party at the Museum of Modern Art, and participated in the Public Art Fund‘s 40th anniversary exhibitionCommercial Break,” all in New York, Erizku has a fair amount of art world success in his young career.

Things went to the next level in February, however, when Erizku became the photographer behind the most-liked Instagram post ever. The internet practically exploded when Beyoncé shared one of the images from her pregnancy photo shoot with the Los Angeles- and New York-based artist.

Awol Erizku, Beyonce pregnancy announcement photograph. Courtesy of Beyonce, via Instagram.

Awol Erizku, Beyoncé pregnancy announcement photograph. Courtesy of Beyoncé, via Instagram.

The photo, which poses the pop star in front of an elaborate floral arrangement, clad in her underwear and a diaphanous green veil to best showcase her impressive baby bump—she is expecting twins with her husband and fellow musician Jay Z—garnered over 10 million likes. (Erizku had previously photographed the couple in Paris at the Louvre in front of Leonardo da Vinci‘s Mona Lisa.)

But where he posed Beyoncé like a religious figure, Erizku is unafraid of being overtly political in his upcoming show, which, according to the gallery, “offers a commentary on ideas of politics and power as well as identity and belonging.”

Awol Erizku, How That Make You Feel? (2017). Courtesy of Ben Brown Fine Arts, London.

Awol Erizku, How That Make You Feel? (2017). Courtesy of Ben Brown Fine Arts, London.

The exhibition, his first solo show in Europe, will feature frequent use of the Black Panther Party logo, a pouncing black panther. In addition to “Make America Great” trucker hats emblazoned with the symbol, subverting President Trump’s campaign slogan, the show will feature a silk-screened American flag covered by the panther.

“I’m putting it out there,” Erizku told the Times, “because I’m black and I’m Muslim and this is everything Trump has tried to stand against.”

“Awol Erizku: Make America Great Again” is on view  at Ben Brown Fine Arts, 12 Brook’s Mews, London, April 20–June 2, 2017.


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