“But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
His shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
His wings are clipped and his feet are tied
So he opens his throat to sing.”

Maya Angelou

Backslash is pleased to announce a new solo exhibition of works by American artist Fahamu Pecou. The artist’s exploration of the representation of black people in the United States takes the form of a wholly new series of paintings paying homage to the great American writer, Maya Angelou. Her life, from the cotton fields to the civil rights movement, was devoted to a ceaseless combat to change people’s attitudes and fight apartheid in South Africa.

Fahamu Pecou has been preparing a PhD since 2013 on black culture in America and its struggles with recognition, specificity and exposition. Following on from works more explicitly rooted in hip-hop culture, he has recently turned his focus to creating images featuring the fight waged by key figures from the civil rights movement. Maya Angelou’s autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, has been a big influence on Pecou, who has modified the title slightly to give it a modern twist. I Know Why The Caged Bird BLINGS looks at the excesses of young African American black men who use ostentatious displays of wealth to assert an image; some of them become trapped in this system of values and, like Maya Angelou’s caged bird, find themselves unable to break free.

Pecou also sheds light on these young men’s desire to reflect more deeply on the splendour of the black soul and the regal heritage of African cultures. He reminds us that BLACK IS BEAUTIFUL. The gold- and jewellery-laden bodies signify a desire to be seen as something other than victim or threat, with a nod to recent brutal police attacks on members of the black community, in Ferguson in particular.

Fahamu Pecou’s work has been exhibited worldwide, including this year at the Museum of Contemporary Art and the High Museum of Art, both in Atlanta, USA. Pecou is a highly active conference contributor and organiser across Europe and the USA. His works can be found in a wide range of public collections around the world.