10 November 2023–18 January 2024
Auudi Dorsey’s striking portraits offer an intimate window into the everyday lives of the Black American South. In a region marked by sociopolitical complexities, economic disparities, and environmental injustices, Black people not only endure but thrive. Auudi’s art boldly confronts these challenging histories while also celebrating the indomitable spirit of his community. In this debut solo exhibition in the UK, Auudi delves into the world of Black blue-collar workers in New Orleans, a heartfelt tribute to the blue-collar labourers in his own family and his father’s unwavering dedication to providing stability for their household.
Auudi’s creations form a rich tapestry of shared memory, forging connections within the heart of the Black community. Infused with deliberate references to Black culture, his subjects evoke a sense of nostalgia that deeply resonates with viewers. These paintings transcend mere autobiography; they construct a collective narrative that encapsulates the remarkable resilience of the Black working class. In honouring these often overlooked figures through his art, Auudi prompts contemplation on displaced stories and invisibilised histories, bridging historical gaps and resurrecting family photobooks lost after Hurricane Katrina. These paintings act as mirrors, encouraging individuals to find themselves and their families in his canvases, creating room for personal narratives to take root, each interpretation as unique as the observer.
Each life-sized portrait takes centre stage on the canvas, fully immersing viewers in the subject’s presence. With his masterful use of darker tones that harmoniously complement black skin, Auudi draws viewers closer to the artwork, unveiling details hidden from a distance. This technique enhances both intimacy and intrigue, bringing forth profound emotions and contrasts that reveal the beauty of the everyday.
While each subject draws inspiration from real people in his community, the interplay of body language and imaginative scenes breathes life into entirely original personas. His incorporation of green backgrounds adds another layer of significance. Meticulously researched, the colour carries a multitude of meanings. Whether representing the pursuit of economic prosperity, our relationship with the environment, or a serenity found amidst turbulent circumstances, it underscores the thoughtfulness and depth of his creations.
Auudi’s work pays homage to his community, his culture, and the people and places that have shaped them. His paintings weave the intricate threads of Black culture, inviting us to not only see and understand, but also to participate in the celebration of the extraordinary narratives and enduring strength of the Black American South.