In his current solo show, “Under the Palm Tree Leaves,” on view at Anat Ebgi gallery in Los Angeles through November 6, Christopher Udemezue creates cinematic wonders, calculated in their intent to showcase queer models reexamining Caribbean and African American history through whimsical explorations of historical events, folklore and oral histories. They are as much personal to the artist’s own background as they are touchstones to anyone whose history has been written out of the dominant canon. Udemezue weaves his own dreams and visualizations alongside depictions of figures representing the daring leaders who played key roles in the liberation of enslaved persons in the Caribbean.
Though specifically examining moments of the past, the artist draws clear parallels to current global circumstances. The anxieties of present day, many of which have grown out of these seemingly far-off periods, are met with beauty and resilience. Out of pain and tragedy, Udemezue offers a clear message of optimism.
To celebrate these momentous works, a celebration of apt caliber was held at collector Sean Leffers’s Hollywood Hills home and cohosted by Thomas Rom. While tropical drinks and bites were enjoyed, a projected rendering of Udemezue’s work shone against the house’s exterior, adding brilliant color to the evening’s nightfall. To toast the special evening, Udemezue led guests, including Thomas Lavin, Jack Siebert, Robert Shiell, Isabel Rose, Jeff Fagen, Ping Fu and ICA San Diego director Andrew Ütt, through a Florida Water blessing—a ritual long practiced by the artist’s family, now shared with those fortunate enough to attend the memorable night.
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