For Frieze Los Angeles, Muzae Sesay Brings a “Kingdom of Diamonds”

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pt.2 Gallery @ Frieze, Los Angeles // February 29, 2024 – March 03, 2024

A highlight of the week for us here in Los Angeles is the solo booth that pt.2 Gallery is putting on at Frieze with Oakland-based painter and longtime Juxtapoz favorite, Muzae Sesay. He will present a new series of paintings, Kingdom of Diamonds, which builds imagery from the artist’s fanciful Afrofuturistic retelling of a fictional history. In this narrative, a powerful, diamond-rich kingdom in modern-day Sierra Leone conquers the Roman Empire with the mission to bring peace and stability to war-plagued worlds.

The paintings take viewers on a leisurely stroll through an Afroterranean seaside town. Calm yet proud monuments stand tall, declaring the harmonious moral principles of the new society — education, exploration, science, freedom, diversity, tolerance, and nature all become values the artist romanticizes within this culture and onto the canvas. Shapes and objects, swollen with both light, color, and darkness, radiate a sun-soaked saturation indicative of the relaxation and tranquility that surrounds an evening’s glow.

“When escaping into a fantasy of amended history, it’s important for me to depict a sense of vibrant joy and mundane stillness within the structures of Black equity — not only as something to hope for and cherish, but also as something that has been systematically stripped away through a violent past,” Sesay says. 

Through this process, the artist revises the horrendous history of diamond exploitation in Sierra Leone while also contemplating the questions of: “Could there be an ethical empire, and how would it function?”

Muzae Sesay is an artist deeply committed to exploring our collective relationship with space, memory, community, and the subjective truths within them. His artistic practice revolves around merging these interconnected realms to create paintings that provoke social reasoning and empower viewers to freely navigate and interpret the imagery. Sesay’s current work seeks to establish a dialogue between the rigid aspects of realism found in our designed environment and the universal connective language that transcends it. Through the use of skewed perspectives, he collapses space and shape into two-dimensional planes of vibrant color, giving rise to surreal geometric compositions of interiors, exteriors, landscapes, and structures. These immersive environments invite viewers to explore, reflect, and question their understanding of space and dimensionality. Inspired by cultural reflection and the validity of remembrance, Sesay constructs fragmented universes that challenge our perceptions. Within these realms, harmonious color compositions and perspectival fallacies invite viewers to delve inside, walk around, and become active participants in the experience.

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