Troy Lamarr Chew II (b. 1992 in Los Angeles, CA, lives and works in Los Angeles, CA) explores the legacy of the African Diaspora and its reverberations throughout American culture. His work looks methodically at systems of coded communication and how this is translated and mistranslated both within the Diaspora and the mainstream.
Chew’s rich artistic visual language draws inspiration largely from Black culture and its history. A highly skilled realist, inspired by European painting techniques, Chew uses these art historical traditions to reframe their exclusion of Blackness. In his Out the Mud series, hand dyed and sewn cloths from West Africa are replicated in a trompe l’oeil fashion, their patterns “torn” away to reveal portrayals of contemporary Black culture and resistance. In another series, Slanguage, the artist paints Flemish style vanitas picturing everyday objects, coded in hip-hop lexicon. His Three Crowns series explores the social history of cosmetic dentistry and the use of grills in hip-hop culture. The artist’s lush and luminous oil paintings embody the energy of this infinitely re-mixed yet deeply rooted genre.
In 2020, Chew was awarded the prestigious Tournesol Residency at Headlands Center for the Arts after becoming a Graduate Fellow from California College of the Arts, San Francisco in 2018. Solo exhibitions include The Roof is on Fire, Altman Siegel, San Francisco, CA (2022), Yadadamean, CULT Aimee Friberg Exhibitions, San Francisco, CA (2020); Fuck the King’s Horses and all the King’s Men, Parker Gallery, Los Angeles, CA (2020); WWJZD, Cushion Works, San Francisco, CA (2019) and Stunt 101, Guerrero Gallery, San Francisco, CA (2019). Recent group exhibitions include Walk Against the Wind, Micki Meng and Parker Gallery, New York, NY (2023); The Culture: Hip Hop and Contemporary Art in the 21st Century, The Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD (2023); Imperfect Paradise, Barbati Gallery, Venice, Italy (2023); Continuum, presented by the Kinsey African American Art & History Collection and Residency Art Gallery at Sofi Stadium, Inglewood, CA (2022-2023); I Yield My Time. Fuck You!, Altman Siegel, San Francisco (2020); California Winter, organized in collaboration with Hannah Hoffman at Kristina Kite Gallery, Los Angeles, CA (2019), Vanguard Revisited, San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco, CA (2019), Graduation, Good Mother Gallery, Oakland, CA (2019) and Black Now(here), Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco, CA (2018). His work is included in the collections of the Kadist Foundation and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.