Elephant Room Gallery is excited to present Messejah Washington’s debut solo exhibition at the gallery, “Love is Omega”, a series of oil paintings and sculptures. The exhibition opens on Friday, June 24th from 6 to 9pm and will run through August 6th. The gallery is located at 704 S Wabash Ave. in the South Loop neighborhood of Chicago. All events in conjunction with the exhibition are free and open to the public.
“Love is Omega” is a body work that the artist has been working on for the past 4 years and it is dedicated to his Great Grandmother Omega. Inspired by Frantz Fanon’s “Wretched of the Earth”, this body of work serves as an archive of Messejah’s life as a colonized being in America through his painted reinterpretations of photographs of children in the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago, heavily influenced by his own family’s photo archive.
“My work is centered on themes of identity, decolonization, white supremacy, the great migration, the innocence of children and my own mortality…..The purpose of my work is to archive the times in which we live, to highlight the journey of my ancestors and the struggles we continue to face in Chicago. I believe the world will change drastically so it’s important to document what’s happening in this period as honestly as we can for future generations to learn from.” – Messejah
The exhibition is full of symbols such as the matador hat, ball and chain, prison outfit and ruff collar. The symbols have specific meanings throughout history and have a very personal connection for the artist. Messejah often paints himself and his siblings in various scenes taken from childhood photos, surrounded by these symbols. The style of work can almost be described as child-like but refined. The artist’s techniques in oil painting are to use bold colors, clear imagery and heavy symbolism. The faces of his subjects are imperfect at times, introducing a feeling of disorder while the subjects are frozen in this time capsule of memories and moments.
About the Artist
Messejah Washington is a multidisciplinary artist born on the South Side of Chicago. At an early age he was exposed to the arts by his father, visual artist Dale Washington. Messejah’s work is centered around his ancestral journey from the American South, life in Chicago and his identity as a Black American living under colonialism. He works with the intent to archive personal memories through paintings, poetry, cinematography, and sculpture. Recently, Messejah returned from Florence, Italy after receiving lessons in classical sculpting. He is interested in learning classical techniques in order to perfect his skills as an artist and become more comfortable with various mediums and bending the rules. He is currently seeking funding to continue his lessons in Florence later this year and hopes to bring that knowledge back to Chicago to classically train a new generation of artists.