Ajmal Millar // PROTAGONIST
On view: July 12th-26th
Opening Reception: July 12th, 8pm – 11pm
PROTAGONIST is Ajmal Millar’s first exhibition at Murmur.
I am working between painting mixed media paintings, sculpting metal, and creating mas (carnival art) performance. In painting, I am trying to capture the same emotional feeling from costumes. In sculpture, I am trying to explore the physical nature of materials and how it relates to my process of mas making. With mas, I am trying to use the performance as a gesture to painting, present the creation process as the most critical component, and involve the body as an additional means to embody the framework form which my work stems. My influences include Mas Man Peter Minshall, Nick Cave, Salvatore Dali, Romare Bearden, William De Kooning, Francis Bacon, and Jean Michael Basquiat. The work I explore from others has led me to consider the questions around the key reality of discovering material for art-making and what exactly happens during the creation process. Due to the fact that some of my work is highly sexual or sexualized, I want to combine sexual pleasure and intimacy as an artistic application. The gesture includes the erotic as I express it from being a Black Queer body. It is my determination to open up space around the painting, the painterly, the carnivalesque, the Black Queer body, and the intimacy within my practice as an artist. I am trying to recreate moments I have experienced or imagined through materiality and form. I’m am also declaring that the art is not only the finished product, but it is actually the process of involving bodies and occupying spaces to create the work. My work is not purely about content and representation, but it is actually about content and form. The aesthetics of my work is just as important as the social and cultural drivers in the work.
Ajmal ‘Mas Man’ Millar was born in 1986 in Brooklyn, NY and is a self-taught contemporary visual artist and MAS MAN (carnival costume designer). His work includes mixed–media collage paintings, repurposed material, sculptural metal, performance, photography which interrogates notions of cultural heritage, sexual and gender identity as a first-generation African–American black queer man born to Trinidadian immigrants.
In 1996, he participated in the opening/closing ceremonies of the Olympic Games, where he performed in a costume designed and made specially by his role model and iconic costume designer Trinidadian Peter Minshall. Ajmal graduated with a B.A. in English from Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA and studied at The Art Students League of New York in 2012. He is currently pursuing his Master’s in Fine Arts at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
He currently lives and works in Atlanta, GA, exhibiting costumes and other artworks in a range of spaces including alternative spaces, club venues, carnival, ‘pop up’-events locally and regionally.