Finding inspiration in Renaissance painters like Vermeer, Caravaggio, and Da Vinci, the works of Awol Erizku replace stiff, aristocratic subjects with women who capture the stylings of modern life. Like the call and response spontaneity of jazz improvisation, Erizku’s response to Vermeer’s classic painting Girl with a Pearl Earring, is Girl with a Bamboo Earring. The photograph bears semblance to the painting- in both the subjects confront the gaze of the viewer and both present the subject in a semi-turned profile pose. Loaded with an arsenal of Renaissance influence, Erizku informs his contemporary photographs with pivotal moments in art history.
Why did you decide to pursue your artistic practice on the East Coast?
East Coast is the best coast. It’s for the working class, for those who earn it.
Why not Los Angeles?
Too plastic for my taste, it’s too slow for me.
What do you find distracting about your urban environment?
The beautiful women!
What do you feel is unique to your city?
The diversity of people, heritage, religions and culture that one can experience in a three blocks radius.
What do you find most appealing about Los Angeles?
The palm trees.
What artists have influenced your practice the most?
Jeff Wall, David Hammons, Gregory Crewdson, Philip Lorca Dicorcia, Vermeer, and Caravaggio.
Images courtesy of the artist & Hasted Kraeutler Gallery
THE 20+20 PHOTOGRAPHY ISSUE
Awol Erizku is featured within Installation Magazine’s special 20+20 Photography Issue, which highlighted 20 Los Angeles and 20 New York City photographers. Download the full issue on your iPad and iPhone.