Alexandre Diop (b. 1995, Paris) is a Franco-Senegalese artist based in Vienna, where he is studying at the Academy of Fine Arts under the tutelage of German artist Daniel Richter. Hood Rich is the title of his first solo show at Jeffrey Deitch and runs until June 30, 2023.
Alexandre Diop: Hood Rich / Jeffrey Deitch, 76 Grand Street, New York, May 13, 2023.
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Exhibition text (excerpt):
Alexandre Diop’s new body of work in Hood Rich pays homage to the inherent creativity, resourcefulness, code of conduct and capacity to adapt of people inhabiting environments considered “ghetto” or labeled as inner-city communities, often stereotypically associated with poverty, institutional racism, disenfranchisement and marginalization.
Inspired by contemporary African realities, African experiences across Europe and the US, as well as trap and hip hop music and associated codes of conduct, Diop’s large-scale paintings on panel and drawings explore the paradox and definitions of material wealth and associated status versus the creativity, capacity and richness of values. Diop elaborates:
The term “hood rich” means that “you made it,” but it also connotates a remaining in the hood, albeit not geographically, but rather in terms of values and belief systems. My work goes beyond stereotypes and does not concern itself with an outsider’s perspective. Instead, it forces you to respect the creativity and ability to adapt of any supposedly marginalized community that nevertheless creates value, meaning and a true intellectual and tangible contribution to contemporary society.
Diop describes his approach as occupying a zone between painting, sculpture, and relief. Like a DJ who uses existing discs and readily available resources rather than expensive instruments, he sources his materials from his surroundings—whether in the streets and stores of Vienna, Berlin, Miami or New York City—and creates something precious for himself and his community out of the discarded and the seemingly worthless. The books, photographs, metal, wood, animal hair, nails and other materials that he adopts echo the traditions of the Arte Povera movement and draw reference from African Art and Dadaism. Similarly, Diop elevates found objects to create multi-layered imagery that have agency, and a unique voice and vision. The material intelligence, texture and depth of his works engage the viewer physically and intellectually. They pose questions that reframe and redefine classical ideas, not only in reference to art history but also to socio-political notions that define the current cultural discourse.
Legibility and immediacy are some of Diop’s primary concerns. He pursues legibility not within the metaphysical aspects of his work or within subjective interpretation of meaning, but rather in the corporal facts embedded within the materials themselves. The artist recalls early in his education making a painting on a wooden door and being frustrated with it, until he pasted a scrap of paper to the surface. The certainty of the paper—expressed by its directness without the need for any elaboration— made an impression that forever altered Diop’s understanding of his work.
With Hood Rich, Diop finds a way to focus on composition, conceptual investigation and artistic essence. Referencing Alberto Giacometti, he initially focuses on the construction of the body and the figurative elements of the composition. He then pushes them further, deconstructing the form as if asking: Which direction are we going? How do we define the path forward? And most importantly, do any previously conceived ideas still apply?
Alexandre Diop (b. 1995, Paris) is a Franco-Senegalese artist based in Vienna, where he is studying at the Academy of Fine Arts under the tutelage of Daniel Richter. Diop was the artist in residence at The Rubell Museum in Miami in 2022. His work was prominently featured in The New African Portraiture curated by Ekow Eshun at Kunsthalle Krems, Austria. Alexandre Diop: Anatomie opened at the Josephinum Medical Museum in Vienna, Austria in April 2023. During his time living in Berlin, Diop founded the artist collective Le Mouton Noir, which brings together visual and performance artists from Africa and Europe. His art donations are for causes that are close to his heart: Human Rights Watch (November 2021) and amfAR (May 2022), and to the Norton Museum in West Palm Beach (April 2022). Hood Rich is the artist’s first exhibition at Jeffrey Deitch.