The Malediction of Cham

NEW YORK- De Buck Gallery is pleased to announce ​The Malediction of Cham​, an online solo exhibition of new paintings by Marielle Plaisir. The works will be available in the gallery’s online viewing room. Plaisir’s new works utilize color and surreal, dream-like imagery to counter concepts of oppression.

Plaisir’s process began in historical and philosophical research, in which she came across the “curse of Cham” or “curse of Ham,” a misinterpretation of a Biblical story, which was ultimately used as a justification for anti-Black racism. Plaisir examines this myth, and the ways in which its deeply harmful legacy still influences anti-Black stereotypes and permeates today’s culture. Through these new paintings, she counters the concept of anti-Blackness by presenting the color black, itself, as the subject of her paintings. Rather than use a readymade black paint, Plaisir chose to create her own shade- utilizing every color in her palette as a symbol for the beauty, power, and multitudes of blackness. Within this space, Plaisir populates her background with lush imagery drawn from nature— constellations, natural forms, and flowers, inspired by both her Caribbean roots and her imagined ideal of a utopia without oppression. The works both resist and hope- they are reflective of Plaisir’s wish that her work will not only draw awareness to the importance of challenging harmful histories, but also speak to the interconnectedness of humans, the universality of fractured identities, and the power of recognizing and depicting inner worlds.

Plaisir views herself as both an artist and an activist, who weaves both history and imagination together into a visual language that is part-figurative narrative, part- symbolic and poetic abstraction. Each figure functions as a symbol for the fight against oppression, inspired by Plaisir’s own painful experiences of racism and the overlapping complexities of her own multicultural identity. The works, Plaisir hopes, will open a dialogue by offering her viewers a dreamscape through which to examine history’s connection to her experience of contemporary Black identity.

Marielle Plaisir is a French-Caribbean multi-media artist currently living in the United States. She combines painting, drawing and performance to present intense visual experiences. Plaisir’s work examines the concept of social domination, which has existed from the time of slavery until now. The common thread throughout her work is a critique of prejudice, according to which political power is supposedly “a natural fact.” Through her art, she declares that power is not a “natural fact” but, rather, a political one that emerges under specific conditions within specific socio-cultural and historical contexts. She engages in the deconstruction of those conditions and, in turn, in the reconstruction of a world in which no one “dominates” or “reigns”; instead, everyone moves freely between reality and imagination.



December 9, 2020 - January 23, 2021


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