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Close a Door to Open a Window

A Brazillian artist’s ode to Black music’s greatests 

Apparently, sitting naked with a Macbook under a tree might be one of modern life’s greatest pleasures. Something about mixing the man-made Apple with nature’s own appears to give an electric-shock of consumer-capitalist cardinal delight. It’s this strange scene that Brazillian artist Maxwelle Alexandre incorporates into his painting Me dê a maçã, now showing as part a solo exhibition at David Zwirner, London. For those that might be wondering about the inspiratory origins, there is a point at play…

Alexandre’s “apples of consumerism” are situated in a contemporary Eden where sin and pleasure lay side by side. These symbolic fruits are symptoms of our force-fed socio-economic system, where virtue and vice are often confused. The system disadvantages all, but it’s Black communities that are usually dealt the worst card. So, Alexandre applies a brilliant tongue-in-cheek wit to the situation. Like the euphoric, orgy-infested Garden of Earthly Delights, in his garden, “the Black characters can sin […] They have the right to.” 

A satirical-remedy isn’t Alexandre’s only prerogative for the exhibition. Heavily informed by pop culture, the showcase is dubbed as the artists own “album” – one which pays tribute to Black musicians from Brazil and beyond. The title (Pardo é Papel/Close a door to open a window) comes from a line by Tyler, the Creator, while each name from the paintings function as odes to rap and hip-hop’s greatests: Baco Exu do Blues, Djonga, BK as well as Solange and Frank Ocean. Bright, bold and brilliant, these mixed-media works are your own Eden on the eye. Catch a glimpse online until Jan 30th.

Words by Rose Holmshaw