Acclaimed New York-based artist LeRoi showed never-before-seen works from his iconic series Colored People at Art Santa Fe, which wrapped up July 15, 2018. This was the first time exhibiting in New Mexico for LeRoi, who first began working on Colored People in 1999. Using oils and acrylics, Colored People is a series of figurative paintings that poetically consider human identity through primitivistic gesture. Colored People is a continuation of LeRoi’s style of work, which he refers to as “Electric Primitive,” a vibrant modernization of the reductive lines, geometric shapes, and flat picture planes.
LeRoi exhibited alongside more than 60 noteworthy galleries, art dealers, and established independent artists from around the world at the Santa Fe Convention Center July 12-15. LeRoi’s decision to exhibit in Santa Fe came from the city’s reputation for its strong artist community and gallery presence. As a result, two art galleries on the East and West Coast agreed to showcase LeRoi’s work and numerous pieces were sold to art collectors. LeRoi could not attend the show because he was attending the opening of Ten Years In at the Burchfield Penney Art Center, an exhibit with works from 120 artists collected over the past ten years.
Colored People is a continued investigation by LeRoi into the material potential of paint, but it also marks a metaphoric consideration of color to envision social realities. In this regard, the title Colored People functions doubly; it is in reference of to one of various racially-charged descriptors African Americans have been given in the course of history, and it also signifies the contemporary blending of people of all colors and identities on earth. There are no singularly colored people. LeRoi’s paintings are—through an astute layering and patient layering of color— a celebration of that depth of diversity.
A prolific self-taught artist, prominent New York lawyer, and the brother and former manager of R&B artist Rick James, LeRoi is best known for his anecdotal and polychromatic narrative paintings. Often described as “Afrocentrist” or “Pan-African,” LeRoi’s work is defined by a contemporary coalescence of religious motifs, cultural symbols, and modernist figures used to portray an incisive and underrepresented vision of the black experience. This distinct aesthetic is informed by more than forty years of experiential learning LeRoi garnered through frequent travels abroad, studious visits to major museums, and a nuanced study of the human condition. This is a practice which is unencumbered by market or academic regularities, representing instead the artist’s encounters with the world and his own human experiences.
LeRoi’s work will be shown in upcoming exhibitions at Superfine! DC in October 2018 and Art of the Americas in Ottawa, Canada, as well as galleries in New York, Paris and Qatar. For more information on LeRoi and his work, visit http://leroiart.com or connect with him on Instagram or Facebook.