Fahamu Pecou Native Sun
My work can be viewed as meditations on contemporary popular culture. I began my career experimenting with practices employed in contemporary branding strategies, particularly as they pertained to hip-hop music. These experiments ultimately led me to question not only the stereotypes that drive consumerism, fame, celebrity-worship etc. but how an unspoken racial and cultural divide often influenced these factors. I appear in my work not in an autobiographical sense, but as an allegory. My character becomes a stand-in to represent black masculinity and both the realities and fantasies projected from and onto black male bodies. I seek to challenge the expectations around black men and, to a larger extent, society in general. Adopting the traits typically associated with black men in hip hop, I extract them from their more popular associations and distort or exaggerate them by appropriating them within a fine art context. The end result is a parody on our obsession with celebrity, our exploitation of black masculinity and the divide that racial ignorance and stereotypes perpetuate. These ideas are expressed in paintings, videos and live performances. Each medium allows me to articulate various nuances around my themes and further distort the assumptions we tend to make about one another.
Fahamu Pecou (b. 1975) is an American painter based in Atlanta, Georgia whose intention is to comment on contemporary and hip-hop culture while simultaneously subverting it to include his ideas on fine art.
In 2005, along with several of Atlanta’s premier contemporary artists, Pecou created history at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art as a part of the exhibition Arts Beats + Lyrics. Since 2005 Fahamu has been featured in several solo and group exhibitions in the U.S. and abroad. His work has been reviewed and featured in numerous publications including Art In America, Harper’s Magazine, NY Arts Magazine, Mass Appeal Magazine, The Fader Magazine, Atlanta Peach Magazine, NY Arts Magazine and on the cover of Artlies Magazine. In 2008 Pecou was awarded a residency at the Caversham Centre in Kwazulu Natal, South Africa, additionally, Pecou’s work was included in “DEFINITION: The Art and Design of Hip Hop“, an anthology chronicling the impact of hip-hop on visual culture, written by famed graffiti artist and designer Cey Adams. A winner of the 2009 ARTADIA award, Fahamu was also featured in two international solo exhibitions; the first in Cape Town, South Africa and a second during Art Basel in Basel Switzerland. Pecou was selected as the first-ever Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts + Culture Resident at The McColl Center for Visual Art in Charlotte, N.C. in 2010.
In 2011 Pecou presented his first solo exhibition in Paris, France. Additionally Atlanta’s NBAF (National Black Arts Festival) awarded Pecou the Emerging Artist Award during their inaugural Interpretations: Black Visual Art – Past, Present and Future award ceremony alongside master artists; Romare Bearden, Elizabeth Catlett, Samella Lewis, Betye Saar, Richard Mayhew, Thornton Dial and David Driskell. Pecou’s works were also featured in two seminal volumes; 5 Cities/41 Artists: Artadia O8/09 (Published by ARTADIA, 2011) and NOPLACENESS: Art in a Post-Urban Landscape (Published by Possible Futures, 2011)
Pecou maintains an active exhibition schedule as well as public lectures and speaking engagements at colleges and museums nationwide. Currently his work addresses concerns around representations of black masculinity and how these images come to define black men across generations and geographical boundaries.