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CARIBBEAN FANTASIA by Raphaël Barontini

Virtual Event - Tarrant County

The Art Galleries at TCU are pleased to present Caribbean Fantasia featuring new work by artist Raphaël Barontini. This exhibition runs August 17 - September 26, 2020 at Fort Worth Contemporary Arts. You can experience this exhibition online via the links on our website: www.theartgalleries.tcu.edu 

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, 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 onHaitian GeneralToussaint 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 Moudy North 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. 

About the artist: Raphaël Barontini was born in France in 1984.He studied at the Hunter College of Art in New York and graduated from Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux arts in Paris in 2009.He has exhibited work in galleries and museums throughout the world, including Brazil, France, Haiti, Mali, Morocco, Peru, South Africa, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. He has also participated in international biennales in Bamako, Casablanca, Lima and Thessaloniki. The artist recently presented a solo-exhibition at SCAD Museum of Art in Savannah, GA in October 2019. Barontini is represented by The Pill in Turkey; by Espai Tactel in Spain; and by Mariane Ibrahim Gallery in Chicago, USA. While usually based in Paris, Barontini is currently living in Singapore as part of a year-long artist residency organized by LVMH, the multinational company that is home to many famous luxury brands including Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior. Caribbean Fantasiaat Fort Worth Contemporary Arts is the artist’s first exhibition in Texas. www.raphaelbarontini.com

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Fort Worth, TX 76102