Museum  October 16, 2018  Chandra Noyes

Liberation Through Vulnerability in Devan Shimoyama’s “Cry, Baby”

Courtesy of the artist

Devan Shimoyama, Tasha, 2018

An explosion of neon and glitter make Devan Shimoyama’s figurative paintings vibrate off the wall, now on view at the Andy Warhol Museum in the artist’s first solo museum show, Cry, Baby. While the colors and textures of Shimoyama’s works may not be subtle, their content is, showing black men, usually portrayed in the media as tough, even violent, in a vulnerable state, some with rhinestone tears streaming down their faces.

For Cry, Baby, Shimoyama debuts a new series of works at the Warhol Museum, showing men in the barbershop chair in multimedia portraits that combine paint, found object and photographic collage, glitter, fabric and more. A place of community for African-American men, these works question and push the bounds of the traditional masculinity found in barbershops. Shimoyama seeks to take down the harmful hyper-masculinity that can be found here, and make it a safe space for queerness and tenderness. The intimacy in these works allows space for his subjects to express the vulnerability that results from oppression due to their sexuality, race, or gender expression. Through this freedom of expression, Shimoyama offers visions of liberation. Depicted in bright, joyful colors and materials, the images celebrate the entirety of his subject, their vulnerability, difference, and all.

Devan Shimoyama, Michael, 2018
Courtesy of Richard Gerrig, Timothy Peterson and the artist

Devan Shimoyama, Michael, 2018

    Devan Shimoyama, Sit Still, 2018
    Courtesy of De Buck Gallery and the artist

    Devan Shimoyama, Sit Still, 2018

    Devan Shimoyama, Butterfly Eater, 2017
    Courtesy of Joyce Varvatos and the artist

    Devan Shimoyama, Butterfly Eater, 2017

      Devan Shimoyama, He Lies, He Cries, 2016
      Courtesy of Joyce Varvatos and the artist

      Devan Shimoyama, He Lies, He Cries, 2016

        © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.

        Andy Warhol, Ladies and Gentlemen (Wilhelmina Ross), 1975, The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh

          The Warhol Museum also presents Andy Warhol’s Ladies and Gentlemen series of 1974 -75 as a complement to Cry, Baby. Warhol’s large portraits of drag queens show a marginalized group seeking agency and representation. Like Warhol’s, Shimoyama’s work pops with bright colors and bold outlines, creating portraits that radiate. Shimoyama’s portraits show that 40 years later, there is still work to be done in accepting all peoples, and welcoming and listening to their voices and experiences.

          Devan Shimoyama: Cry, Baby is on view through March 17, 2019 at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh.

          About the Author

          Chandra Noyes

          Chandra is managing editor for Art & Object.