The Golden March - Solo exhibition and performance / SCAD Museum of Art (Savannah - USA)

 October 3rd >  January 19th 2020

SCAD Museum of Art presents The Golden March, a new public art commission and the first museum solo exhibition in the U.S. by Raphaël Barontini, an artist known for his dynamic installations that subvert visual tropes and iconographies. Barontini’s works are mostly fiber-based, and he creates images by layering screen prints and paintings, fashioning fantastical environments that evoke pageantry and ceremony. The artist explores ritualized celebration forms espoused by the African Diaspora and offers an ongoing interrogation and challenge to colonial iconographies.

The project is conceived within the framework of the exhibition Frederick Douglass: Embers of Freedom. Barontini’s work complements the Douglass exhibition while remaining wholly its own experience. The Golden March comprises two parts: a performance in collaboration with the Savannah High School Marching Band and a site-specific installation of new work for the four iconic Jewel Boxes lining the façade of the museum.

Like an opera in many acts, Barontini approached the commission as a fractional narrative and tribute to the life and work of abolitionist, author and social reformer Frederick Douglass. Each of the four Jewel Boxes is a poetic reflection on Douglass’ life history, in the form of large-scale textile installations based on visual material from the Douglass family archives of Dr. Walter O. Evans. Barontini also invokes the shapes and forms of protest banners, flags and boat sails, references to both Douglass’ legacy as a radical and revolutionary force in American history, as well as a symbol of his escape to freedom.

A performance entitled The Golden March will be staged during the reception of the exhibition, with the marching band revealing each Jewel Box while carrying banners and flags created by the artist in a public parade.

The exhibition is curated by Storm Janse van Rensburg, head curator of SCAD Exhibitions and Ben Tollefson, assistant curator of SCAD Exhibitions.

Additional funding for the exhibition is provided by Étant donnés Contemporary Art, a program of the French American Cultural Exchange (FACE) Foundation. Étant donnés is developed in partnership with the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States, with lead funding from the Florence Gould Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Chanel USA, the ADAGP, the French Ministry of Culture, and Institut Français.

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Caribbean Fantasia - Solo exhibition and performance / FWCA - T.C.U Art Galleries (Fort Worth - USA)

 February 28th >  September 26th  2020

The Art Galleries at TCU are pleased to present "Caribbean Fantasia" featuring new work by artist Raphael Barontini. This exhibition runs February 28 – May 2, 2020 at Fort Worth Contemporary Arts and will open with a cowboy parade and reception for the artist on Friday, February 28th, from 6-8 p.m. 

Paris-based artist Raphaël Barontini uses photographic imagery on textiles to create installations that conjure spectacle, celebration and ritual. From large-scale colorful banners and flags to items of customized clothing, his vibrant printed fabric work combines pattern and portraiture that is both eye-catching and alluring. His juxtaposition of seductive surfaces - - playful fringe and tassels against silky drapery and soft leather - - creates a dynamic gallery environment that suggests performance and improvisation.

In using pre-existing imagery Barontini references the collage work of artists like Hannah Höch or Romare Bearden, and his selection of particular photographic portraits points to his ongoing investigation of African Diaspora, of people and populations overlooked or misrepresented. His work engages with and challenges dominant iconographies of colonial interests. He often draws attention to black hero figures in French history, and as such, his contemporary re-presentation of such historic images explores issues of representation and race.

Barontini is particularly influenced by processes of creolization and hybridity and the philosophies of Caribbean thinkers, such as Édouard Glissant and Stuart Hall who believed there is not a homogenous cultural identity for diasporic people. He also considers his own family history which is infused with personal experiences of participating in community parades and carnival, and tracks a path from Réunion Island (French Territory in the Indian Ocean) to the Caribbean and from Italy to Paris.

For TCU – Texas Christian University, Barontini presents an immersive panorama at Fort Worth Contemporary Arts where visitors will be surrounded by large-scale fabric works, accompanied by an audio piece commissioned by hip hop musician Mike Ladd. Inspired by Barontini’s research on Haitian General Toussaint Louverture (1743-1803) and other leaders of the Haitian Revolution (1791–1804), the exhibition engages with a precise historical moment - - the Battle of Vertières - - and the fight independence from French colonial rule. Barontini considers equestrian portraiture as a symbol of identity and power, and in the context of Fort Worth, reflects on the history of the American cowboy, or more specifically, cowboys of color. Understood in this way Caribbean Fantasia represents an imaginary vision of a cavalcade for freedom.

To celebrate the opening of Caribbean Fantasia, Barontini is collaborating with the National Multicultural Western Heritage Museum and Hall of Fame in Fort Worth and has invited cowboys of color ride to Fort Worth Contemporary Arts from the TCU School of Art, located in TCU Moudy Fine Arts Building. The cowboys will wear items of custom clothing created by Barontini, which, after the ride, will be installed in the gallery to become part of the on-going exhibition. The parade by cowboys of color is a living tribute to such figures who have been erased from history, but who should be now be reconsidered and explored.

The exhibition is curated by Sara-Jayne Parsons, head curator of the T.C.U Art Galleries and the FWCA.

Photo Credit : Lynné Bowman Cravens, The Art Galleries at TCU, 2020

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