Fahamu Pecou is an American artist and scholar who explores black male identity in art, performance and popular culture. Born in 1975, Atlanta-based Pecou received a BFA in Painting and Digital Media from the Atlanta College of Art in 1997 and he is currently a Ph.D. student in Emory University’s Institute of Liberal Arts.
A child of Southern hip-hop culture himself, Fahamu has an uncanny ability to capture the attitudes that fuel his frustration with the one-dimensional way that black men are perceived. In his oeuvre, he interrogates contemporary representations of Black masculinity and how these images impact both the reading and performance of Black masculinity. Earlier performance works in which he arrived at openings in a limousine with bodyguards, and paintings featuring the covers of art magazines bearing his likeness, toyed with how he thought others perceived him. But Pecou’s work took a more serious turn when he traveled to South Africa in 2008 and saw how the global phenomenon of hip-hop has influenced the way African American men are viewed abroad.
His paintings, performances and music videos feature a finely crafted alter-ego — “Fahamu Pecou is the Shit” — modeled after popular tropes of hip-hop music and entertainment industry in order to embody the object of his critique. For example, in the series All Dat Glitters Aint Goals, which was also produced as a music video, Fahamu represents himself in gangsta glitterati personae.
Using parody and satire, Pecou’s work exposes today’s obsession with celebrity, exploitation of the masculinity of young black men, and the divide that racial ignorance and stereotypes perpetuate. Concurrently, his work celebrates the poetic nature of hip-hop’s language, both verbal and physical, as well as its powerful and empowering contribution to an increasingly hybrid global culture.
Pecou’s unique vision was showcased in his recent solo exhibition titled GRAV•I•TY, on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia, which concluded on February 14. The exhibit explored issues imbued in the controversial trend of “saggin” – the style which sees young men wearing pants well below their waist – as an allegory to talk about Black male mobility and agency. He contends that fashion trends such as “saggin” can be a politicized statement, an act of resistance and a demand to be seen. The idea of “gravity” assumes multiple meanings in Pecou’s work: not only the unseen force that tethers us to the earth, but also the force that is grave and serious.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Fahamu Pecou was only four years old the night that his father, who had long battled schizophrenia, murdered his mother as he and his young siblings watched television in a nearby room. Fahamu and his siblings were eventually sent to South Carolina to live in a public housing project with his mother’s aunt, a stern woman who had little patience for a sensitive boy who liked to sketch the cartoons he saw on television.
“Art was my saving grace, my go-to place when things got a little rough. Despite the turmoil of our house, you would find me in a corner, with paper and pencil, drawing quietly.” — Fahamu Pecou
In 2004, Pecou was invited to join Art, Beats and Lyrics a group show at the High Museum of Art, Atlanta. Since then Pecou’s work has been featured in numerous exhibitions all over the world.
One of his latest exhibitions, titled Imagining New Worlds, responds to the work of the twentieth-century artist Wifredo Lam, providing contemporary perspectives on his life and career.
Fahamu Pecou has received several awards and recognitions including an ARTADIA award, the NBAF Interpretations Emerging Artist Award, as well as a Best in Show Award for the 2007 Atlanta Biennial. He was named Critic’s Choice for Best Emerging Artist by Atlanta’s Creative Loafing in 2007.
Pecou has been awarded residencies at the Caversham Centre in Kwazulu Natal, South Africa and the first-ever Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts + Culture Resident at The McColl Center for Visual Art in Charlotte, N.C.
Fahamu’s work has been reviewed and featured in numerous publications including Art in America, Harper’s Magazine, NY Arts Magazine, Mass Appeal Magazine, The Fader Magazine, Atlanta Peach Magazine, NY Arts Magazine and on the cover of Artlies Magazine.
In 2011 his work is featured in DEFINITION: The Art and Design of Hip Hop, an anthology chronicling the impact of hip-hop on visual culture, written by well-known graffiti artist and designer Cey Adams, 5 Cities/41 Artists: Artadia O8/09, Artadia: The Fund for Art and Dialogue by Franklin et al Sirmans, NOPLACENESS: Art in a Post-Urban Landscape, as well as In the Eye of the Muses: Selections from the Clark Atlanta University Art Collection in 2012.
Fahamu’s oeuvre is included in many noted private and public national and international collections, Smithsonian National Museum of African American Art and Culture, Nasher Museum at Duke University, The High Museum of Art, Clark Atlanta University Art Collection and Museum of Contemporary Art Georgia, to name a few.
Fahamu Pecou lives and works in Atlanta, Georgia.
|Year||Name of the exhibition||Museum/Gallery||Solo/Group|
|2015||I Know Why the Caged Bird Blings||Backslash Gallery, Paris, France||Solo|
|2015||Imagining New Worlds||High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA||Solo|
|2015||A Corps Perdu #2: Commissariat: Marc Donnadieu||Galerie Gourvennec, Marseille, France||Group|
|2014||Grav • i • ty||Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia, Atlanta, GA||Solo|
|2014||Pursuit of Happiness||Lyons Wier Gallery, New York, NY||Solo|
|2014||State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now||Crystal Bridges Museum, Bentonville, AK||Group|
|2014||Downtown Art Fair NYC||Downtown Armory, New York, NY||Group|
|2014||Art Paris||Bckslash Gallery, Grand Palais, Paris, France||Group|
|2013||How to Eat Watermelon||Conduit Gallery, Dallas TX,||Solo|
|2013||All Dat Glitters Aint Goals||BlueOrange Gallery, Houston, TX||Solo|
|2013||Negus in Paris||Backslash Gallery, Paris France,||Solo|
|2013||A Corps Perdus (Lost Bodies)||Backslash Gallery, Paris, France||Group|
|2013||Drawing Inside the Perimeter||High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA||Group|
|2013||Aqua Miami||Lyons Wier Gallery, Miami, Fl||Group|
|2013||Pulse Miami||Lyons Wier Gallery, Miami, Fl||Group|
|2013||The Miami Project||Conduit Gallery, Miami, FL||Group|
|2012||Native Sun: Selected Works 2008-2012||Sumter Gallery of Art, Sumter, SC||Solo|
|2012||All Dat Glitters Aint Goals||Lyons Wier Gallery, New York, NY||Solo|
|2012||Sophisticated Ignorance||Allen Priebe Gallery, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, Wisconsin||Solo|
|2012||Resourced||Lyons Wier Gallery, New York, NY||Group|
|2012||Recent Acquisitions||Nasher Museum of Art Duke University, Durham, NC||Group|
|2012||Dallas Art Fair||Lyons Wier Gallery, Dallas, TX||Group|
|2011||Sophisticated Ignorance||Mason Murer Gallery, Atlanta, GA||Solo|
|2011||Hard to Death||Backslash Gallery, Paris, France||Solo|
|2011||Art History Next||Lyons Wier Gallery, New York, NY||Solo|
|2011||Second Childhood||Conduit Gallery, Dallas, TX||Solo|
|2011||Fahamu Pecou||Rowan University Art Gallery, Glassboro, NJ||Solo|
|2011||Dallas Art Fair||Lyons Wier Gallery, Dallas, TX||Group|
|2011||24-Jul||Lyons Wier Gallery, New York, NY||Group|
|2011||Live & in stereo(type), Fahamu Pecou & Marcia Jones||Harvey B. Gantt Center, Charlotte, NC||Group|
|2011||Here and Now||Lyons Wier Gallery, New York, NY||Group|
|2010||Whirl Trade||The Shooting Gallery, San Francisco, CA||Solo|
|2010||All Falls Down||Get This! Gallery, Atlanta, GA||Solo|
|2010||All Falls Down||Grambling State University, Grambling, LA||Solo|
|2010||The Reflected Gaze||Torrance Art Museum, Torrance, CA||Group|
|2010||Pulse Miami||Lyons Wier Gallery, Miami, FL||Group|
|2010||Backslash Presents…||Backslash Gallery, Paris, France||Group|
|2009||Coming From Where I’m From||Bell-Roberts Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa||Solo|
|2009||Blak Presidential||Volta 5, Art Basel, Switzerland||Solo|
|2009||Blak Presidential||Lyons Wier Ortt Gallery, New York, NY||Solo|
|2009||Instant Art History Immediately: The Fak’try||Lyons Wier Gallery, New York, NY||Solo|
|2009||Whirl Trade||Get This! Gallery, Atlanta, GA||Solo|
|2009||Pulse Miami||Lyons Wier Gallery, Miami, FL||Group|
|2009||Endless Summer Exhibition||Lyons Wier Gallery, New York, NY||Group|
|2008||Fahamenon||NEXT Chicago, Chicago, IL||Solo|
|2008||Something Like a Fahamenon||Vaknin Gallery, Atlanta, GA||Solo|
|2008||Sitting By The Front Door||MMGalleries, San Francisco, CA||Solo|
|2008||Stunt’d Like My Daddy||Conduit Gallery, Dallas, TX||Solo|
|2008||I Am a Man-Revisited||Museum of Contemporary Diasporan Arts, Brooklyn, NY||Group|
|2008||Bare Walls, No Boundaries||Wadsworth Atheneum Museum, Amistad Center, Hartford, CT||Group|
|2008||Unknown||Bell-Roberts Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa||Group|
|2008||Movers & Shakers||Museum of Contemporary Art Georgia, Atlanta, GA||Group|
|2008||Modern Art. Modern Lives. Then + Now||Austin Museum of Art, Austin, Texas||Group|
|2007||Million Dolla Baby||Lyons Wier Ortt, New York, NY||Solo|
|2007||Hustle & Show||Flanders Gallery, Raleigh, NC||Solo|
|2007||Things Done Changed||Vaknin, Atlanta, GA||Solo|
|2007||Taking Possession||University of Arkansas, Little Rock, AK||Group|
|2007||ACAC Talent Show: The 2007 Atlanta Biennial||Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, Atlanta, GA||Group|
|2007||Pulse Art Fair||Miami, Fl and New York, NY||Group|
|2007||Swab International Art Fair||Barcelona, Spain||Group|
|2007||Kindred Spirits, Arturo Lindsay & Fahamu Pecou||Blackburn Museum, Georgia College and State University, Milledgeville, GA||Group|
|2006||Neopop and Circumstance||Conduit Gallery, Dallas, TX||Solo|
|2006||NeopoPular Demand||MMGalleries, San Francisco, CA||Solo|
|2006||What’s Going Down||Taller Portobelo, Portobelo, Panama||Group|
|2005||Neopop Goes the World||Ty Stokes Gallery, Dallas, TX||Solo|
|2005||Selections||Ty Stokes Gallery, Atlanta, GA||Group|
|2005||Pool Art Fair||Solita Hotel, New York, NY||Group|
|2005||Altares: Encuentra Cutural||Taller Portobelo, Portobelo, Panama||Group|
|2005||Art, Beats & Lyrics||High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA||Group|
|2003||Ferias de Portobelo||Las Orquedias, Portobelo, Panama||Group|
|2002||The Delphina Project (performance)||Spelman College, Atlanta, GA||Group|
|2001||Santuario de los Reyes, Festival Iberoamericana de Teatro de Cadiz||Cadiz, Spain||Group|
|1997||Precise Significance||Hammonds House Galleries, Atlanta, CA||Group|