Raphaël Barontini

'The Golden March'

SCAD Museum of Art presents "The Golden March," a new public art commission and the first museum solo exhibition in the U.S. by Raphaël Barontini, an artist known for his dynamic installations that subvert visual tropes and iconographies. Barontini’s works are mostly fiber-based, and he creates images by layering screen prints and paintings, fashioning fantastical environments that evoke pageantry and ceremony. The artist explores ritualized celebration forms espoused by the African Diaspora and offers an ongoing interrogation and challenge to colonial iconographies. A recent body of work by the artist set out to bring attention to black hero figures in French history.

Signature image for Raphael Barontini exhibition at SCAD Museum of Art
Raphaël Barontini, "The Golden March," mixed media, 2019. Courtesy of the artist. Commissioned by SCAD Museum of Art.

Barontini mines historical art references and visual systems to make new, surprising images that explore issues of representation and race. He establishes new contexts for images culled from African and European art, and in the process engages topics that critique colonialism and oppressive regimes. Tracing a personal lineage from Réunion Island to the Caribbean to Paris, Barontini is influenced by processes of creolization and hybridity and the philosophies of Caribbean thinkers, such as Édouard Glissant.

The project is conceived within the framework of the exhibition "Frederick Douglass: Embers of Freedom," a group exhibition utilizing historic documents in conversation with contemporary artwork. Barontini’s work complements the Douglass exhibition while remaining wholly its own experience. "The Golden March" comprises two parts: a performance in collaboration with a local high school marching band and a site-specific installation of new work for the four iconic Jewel Boxes lining the façade of the museum.

Like an opera in many acts, Barontini approached the commission as a fractional narrative and tribute to the life and work of abolitionist, author and social reformer Frederick Douglass. Each of the four Jewel Boxes is a poetic reflection on Douglass’ life history, in the form of large-scale textile installations based on visual material from the Douglass family archives of Dr. Walter O. Evans. Barontini also invokes the shapes and forms of protest banners, flags and boat sails, references to both Douglass’ legacy as a radical and revolutionary force in American history, as well as a symbol of his escape to freedom.

A performance entitled "The Golden March" will be staged during the reception of the exhibition, with a marching band revealing each Jewel Box while carrying banners and flags created by the artist in a public parade.

About the artist

Barontini was born in France in 1984. He lives and works in Saint-Denis, a northern suburb of Paris. 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. Barontini studied at Hunter College in New York and the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He is represented in France by Galerie Alain Gutharc; in Turkey by The Pill; and in Spain by Espai Tactel.

Credits

The exhibition is curated by Storm Janse van Rensburg, head curator of SCAD Exhibitions and Ben Tollefson, assistant curator of SCAD Exhibitions.

Museum Admission

This exhibition is free and open to the public.

Partners and sponsors

Additional funding for the exhibition is provided by Étant donnés Contemporary Art, a program of the French American Cultural Exchange (FACE) Foundation. Étant donnés is developed in partnership with the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States, with lead funding from the Florence Gould Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Chanel USA, the ADAGP, the French Ministry of Culture, and Institut Français.

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