Back in 2014 we told you about British painter Amar Stewart’s “Hip-Hop Royalty” series at the Cotton Candy Machine in Bushwick, a display of “Golden Age”-inspired oil paintings of influential hip hop artists like Rick Ross, Action Bronson, and 10 other rap royals. As of June 2, he’ll be back at it again in Bushwick, with a six-week (maybe longer, depending upon popularity) exhibition and residency at Sweet Science.
His new exhibition, titled “The History of Hip Hop” has all-new work, including more than 20 new portraits of major New York hip hop artists in place of European nobles, as originally portrayed by your Rembrandts and Van Dykes, two recreated “Imperial” Faberge eggs (originally crafted for the last Russian Czar Nicholas II) on canvas, and Stewart’s first-ever sculpture, a collaboration with Russian sculptor Anton Tishchenko. (Check out our photo gallery for a sneak peek, courtesy of Stewart.)
“The whole concept of this show is really focusing on the birthplace of hip hop being New York and the East Coast, so it’s just paying homage to everyone from DJ Kool Herc, who started hip hop in the 70s, to obviously your Biggies and your Wu-Tangs,” Stewart told us. “It’s a really good mix.”
The exhibition will open June 2 at 6:30 pm and, to help tell the history of hip hop through both art and music, a DJ friend of Stewart’s will be playing a set that represents the artwork on display. “The whole idea is that we’re going through a journey of hip hop from the beginning, to the Golden Age of hip hop, around the mid-90s,” Stewart said of the opening.
If you can’t make it to the opening, the Sweet Science space– and the adjoining speakeasy Featherweight, which is accessed through a hidden backdoor– will still allow you to “have a different experience from what you’d normally get” from an exhibition or artist’s studio, said Stewart. The venue was originally an old house, and the underused upstairs area, with exposed brick and a ceiling that “looks like it’s going to cave in,” is being refurbished with new floors for safety and so that Stewart can use it as a studio space for the duration of the exhibition. He’ll be keeping the studio open for those who want to grab one of Featherweight’s “great cocktails” and see what he is working on.
The new Beats & Cocktails event that Sweet Science is planning for every third Thursday through the summer sounds like a good time to go. The event, which starts June 16, will feature DJs and drink specials. Stay tuned to their Instagram account for details.
Amar Stewart’s “The History of Hip Hop” exhibition opens at Sweet Science, located at 135 Graham Avenue, at 6:30 pm on June 2 and will run for at least six weeks.