Devan Shimoyama Reimagines Warhol Work with Black Drag Queens

Artist Devan Shimoyama like the pop-art master was inspired to create a series on Miami’s drag queens. ‘Ladies and Gentlemen’, a Warhol’s painting series was created between 1974 and 1975, and it boosted Shimoyama’s inspiration to the fullest and lead him to create his own version of Andy Warhol’s rarely seen work.

The artist’s version of ‘Ladies and Gentlemen’ is named Cry, Baby and it stars Miami’s drag queens of today, for him, it was fascinating to learn about this group of young people of color that are coming together to create a community and safe spaces for each other. There, drag is used as a healing tool. These queens go out in the night time and create this illusion of fantasy, and through that, they celebrate and support each other.

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Like Warhol, the artist uses beauty to talk about these raw topics, but more as a coping mechanism and less so as a reiteration. Work like this has a much more triggering effect for the artist because it becomes a very personal matter.

For the Cry, Baby drag queens artwork collection Shimoyama uses mythological and visual cues to allude to the queer, black, male experience. There are not many examples of those bodies in the media, so he is creating his own fiction and magic to rectify that.

Devan Shimoyama uses rhinestones, glitter, sequins, and a bright fabric to create poignant dialogues around the queer, black male experience. While canvases of this creative design feel joyful and celebratory, they also present commentary on pain and sorrow. Teardrops lurk in the background of his landscapes or stream down the faces of his figures as a reminder of the racial injustices at work in contemporary society.

Cry, Baby will mark the first museum solo exhibition of Devan Shimoyama.

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See also: The New Baroque Oil Paintings by Naomi Devil