Devan Shimoyama: Cry, Baby

In figurative painting and self-portraiture, Devan Shimoyama creates vulnerable yet resilient depictions of African American boyhood and masculinity.

Devan Shimoyama: Cry, Baby marks the first solo exhibition of Devan Shimoyama, Philadelphia-born painter and professor at Carnegie Mellon University. This exhibition, which covers his entire booming career, includes painting, photography and sculpture, as well as a series of new works that are being exhibited for the first time.

In figurative painting and self-portraiture, Shimoyama creates vulnerable yet resilient depictions of African American boyhood and masculinity. His work challenges cliché with daring and personal representations of the complexities of race and sexuality. In his recent barbershop paintings, Shimoyama transforms the hyper-masculine social space into queer fantasy where feminine glamour and fashion take over, and tender depictions of boys don floral capes and glitter-encrusted hair.

“It’s so rewarding to be working with Devan Shimoyama at such an early point in his career,” said Jessica Beck, Milton Fine curator of art. “His work balances pain and strength, intimacy and isolation with an ease and lightness that is captivating and memorable. His joyful yet deeply emotional portraits create space for a necessary, critical dialog around intimacy, sexuality, and race.”

Shimoyama creates two distinct worlds—one an enchanted paradise, the other a queer imagining of the African American barbershop. Celebrated for fraternity and community, Shimoyama presents the barbershop as a space where young men and boys can feel shamed and vulnerable. In sculpture, he creates objects of mourning for Trayvon Martin and Tamir Rice, both examples of the aggressive targeting of African American youth as fearful or threatening. While canvases feel joyful and celebratory, they also present commentary on pain and sorrow. Teardrops lurk in the background of his landscapes or stream down the faces of his figures as a reminder of the racial injustices at work in contemporary society. Shimoyama presents a world where race, sexuality, and identity can operate from a point of freedom generated by inner strength.

This exhibition, on view through March 17, 2019, makes a unique connection to The Andy Warhol Museum’s permanent collection and brings to light contemporary insight into one of Warhol’s largest and yet most overlooked painting commissions, the Ladies and Gentlemen series of 1974 -75. Visitors will find Shimoyama’s work in dialog with Warhol’s portraits of drag queens on the fourth floor of the museum’s permanent collection.

“Shimoyama’s confident and daring depictions of sexuality, race and queer performance help reclaim the agency and visibility that Warhol’s models have been denied,” says Beck. “The juxtaposition will offer a unique opportunity to bring the Ladies and Gentlemen paintings out from the shadows.”

Born in 1989 in Philadelphia, Shimoyama received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in drawing and painting from Pennsylvania State University in 2011, and his Master of Fine Arts from Yale University School of Art in 2014. Shimoyama has exhibited widely at galleries throughout the United States, including De Buck Gallery, Lesley Heller Gallery, and Bravin Lee Programs in New York; Samuel Freeman Gallery in Los Angeles; Alter Space in San Francisco; and Emmanuel Gallery in Denver. His work was also included in Realities in Contemporary Video Art at the Fondation des Etats Unis, in Paris in 2015.

In 2019, Holland Cotter selected Shimoyama as one of the The New York Times’ 19 Artists to Watch, His work has been written about in The Los Angeles Times, New American Paintings, Pinwheel, the blog Filthy Dreams, and Saatchi Art. In 2016, Shimoyama was named the winner of the Miami Beach PULSE Prize at PULSE Miami Beach. He is currently represented by De Buck Gallery in New York, and is the Cooper-Siegel Assistant Professor of Art in the School of Art at Carnegie Mellon University. Shimoyama lives and works in Pittsburgh.

The exhibition will be accompanied by an illustrated catalogue with essays by Jessica Beck, Alex Fialho, and Rickey Laurentiis and an interview by Emily Colucci with the artist.

To compliment the exhibition, a robust schedule of public programs is being organized throughout Pittsburgh. Rashaad Newsome, renowned multi-disciplinary artist, will make his Pittsburgh premiere of Shade Compositions at the Carnegie Music Hall. Other events include a partnership with the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics at the University of Pittsburgh, and a closing dialog with Shimoyama and the exhibition catalog contributors.

Devan Shimoyama: Cry, Baby is curated by Jessica Beck, The Warhol’s Milton Fine curator of art.

Generous support of Devan Shimoyama: Cry, Baby is provided by the Quentin and Evelyn T. Cunningham Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation, The Fine Foundation, Arts, Equity, & Education Fund, Karen and Jim Johnson, De Buck Gallery, Jim Spencer and Michael Lin, with additional support from Stacy and Samuel Freeman, V. Joy Simmons M.D., Mrs. Ellen and Mr. Jack Kessler, The Plastino Family Charitable Fund, and Mr. Howard C. Eglit.


The Andy Warhol Museum

Located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the place of Andy Warhol’s birth, The Andy Warhol Museum holds the largest collection of Warhol’s artworks and archival materials and is one of the most comprehensive single-artist museums in the world. The Warhol is one of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh. The Warhol receives state arts funding support through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency; and The Heinz Endowments. Further support is provided by the Allegheny Regional Asset District.

Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh

Established in 1895 by Andrew Carnegie, Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh is a collection of four distinctive museums: Carnegie Museum of Art, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Carnegie Science Center, and The Andy Warhol Museum. The museums reach more than 1.4 million people a year through exhibitions, educational programs, outreach activities, and special events.

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