The Artist Speaks

Consider what you know about art.  Almost everyone is familiar with Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, Michelangelo’s David and the Sistine Chapel Ceiling, and Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus.  Most people have at least seen Andy Warhol’s work, (the Campbell’s Soup cans and his bright, silk-screened celebrity portraits), even if they aren’t familiar with the artist—who is, by the way, the author of the quote, “In the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes.”  On the local scene, there are quite a few of us who can look at a painting, drawing or print by a Sumter artist and say, “That’s a Davenport” (or a Metz, or an Ackerman).

But occasionally, art can be pretty elusive as far as understanding what the creator intended.  The Accessibility Project filled downtown Sumter with installation art for a month every fall in the early 2000’s, with the most common reaction being, “What on earth is that?”

The Sumter County Gallery of Art will host an Artist’s Talk on Friday, November 9, 2012 that gives viewers the chance to ask the artist all about his intentions, his methods, and his message.  Following an opening reception for the Colin Quashie/Fahama Pecou showing from 5 to 7 p.m., painter Fahama Pecou will address those in attendance.  A prolific and talented painter, Pecou’s exhibition, Native Sun, focuses on contemporary society, particularly the culture of hip-hop.

The artist explains:

“My work can be viewed as meditations on contemporary popular culture….  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…society in general…. 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.”

Ultimately, his goal is to promote an understanding of our diversity.  Pecou’s work is surprisingly accessible, and people who might normally feel just a bit inhibited from asking an artist to explain what he’s doing may feel more comfortable after discovering that this award-winning painter, performer and video artist, whose work has been featured in numerous prestigious and popular magazines (including Harper’s Bazaar and NY Arts), who has had his work exhibited from South America to Switzerland…is from Hartsville, South Carolina.  Yes, he is one of our own—and this is his first showing in the place of his childhood.  

The exhibition will continue until January 11, 2013.  The Sumter County Gallery of Art is located at 200 Hasel Street (next door to Patriot Hall).  For more info, please call (803) 775-0543, e-mail, or check out their website.  The Gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 1:30 to 5 p.m.  There is no admission charge, but donations are accepted.  It is closed on Mondays and major holidays.

Join the members of the Sumter County Gallery of Art on November 9, 2012 as they celebrate the opening of Pecou’s Native Sun: Fahamu Pecou, 2009 to Now and Colin Quashie’s The Plantation (Plan-ta-Shun).  Admission for Gallery members is free; the public is invited for a suggested $5 donation.  The reception begins at 5 p.m., with Pecou’s talk scheduled to start at 7:05 p.m.  Enjoy fine art, refreshments—and a chance to ask the artist, well, “What on earth is that?”  An accomplished writer and sought-after speaker (almost a Renaissance man), Pecou should definitely have some interesting answers!

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