NIKKO WASHINGTON'S DEBUT SOLO EXHIBITION WITH THE GALLERY, "FOR THE OLD GODS AND THE NEW," OPENS ON OCTOBER 28, 2023 AT KAVI GUPTA GALLERY WASHINGTON BLVD.
PRIOR TO THE EXHIBITION OPENING, NIKKO SAT DOWN WITH THE TEAM TO TALK ABOUT HIS PRACTICE, INSPIRATION, AND WHAT HE HOPES FOR VIEWERS TO TAKE FROM THEIR INTERACTIONS WITH HIS WORK.
1. Tell us more about the title. Who are you referring to when you reference gods?
In the title, "Gods" references African deities from folklore that's been dispersed and reimagined throughout the diaspora. I intertwine these narratives with the stories of the iconic sports figures I grew up watching and saw so highly idolized in the media.
2. What is it about iconic athletes that interest you? Is there a particular reason you started working with that type of imagery?
We often find reflections of ourselves in those we look up to. Growing up, I found myself deeply interested in the lives of individuals who not only excelled in the realm of sports but also had an impact on society. This dual significance ignited my passion to blend sports imagery with my artistic practice, despite the initial perception of them as contrasting pursuits. My aim was to weave these seemingly disparate worlds together, and create a series that explored key moments and influential figures that profoundly shaped my worldview.
3. Is there a work or artist that helped define, change, or develop your artistic style?
I see myself as a sponge for imagery-I eagerly absorb inspiration from diverse sources, frequently extending far beyond my own creative medium and discipline. It's impossible to pinpoint one or even a few inspiration sources without worrying that I've left something pivotal out. This may not be the answer that people are looking for, but I could never narrow it down to just one work, its everything.
I want the viewer to immerse themselves in the folktales of the past while looking through the lens of the future. This is a contemporary reinterpretation of age-old folk narratives, created, and retold through the perspective of personal exploration and the quest for self-discovery."
4. What message do you hope this exhibition communicates to its viewers?
I want the viewer to immerse themselves in the folktales of the past while looking through the lens of the future. This is a contemporary reinterpretation of age-old folk narratives, created, and retold through the perspective of personal exploration and the quest for self-discovery.
5. Could you elaborate on the importance of your color choices and the application of color theory in your work?
Color plays a profound role in the narrative of my painting and sets the tone of the subject matter. The dark hues symbolize the genesis of creation, recalling the birth of Earth itself, while the warm red tones evoke tales shared around the communal fire. In contrast, the deep blues echo the vast expanses of the oceans that once stood as dividers, physically and symbolically, between these narratives.
6. Could you identify the prominent folklore or legends that inspired your work?
Rich narratives from Anansi tales and The Old Maker play a major role in my work. Intertwined the legendary figures of sports, including luminaries such as Jesse Owens, Sammy Sosa, and Michael Jordan.