In Trysts Tropicales, Allan deSouza stages the lingering traces of “colonialism’s culture” as a complex of elusive desires and lost fantasies, reworking Achille Mbembe’s description of the present as an “entanglement of absences.” The exhibition consists of two bodies of photographic works, Rdctns and Third Eye. In the Rdctns series, deSouza revisits paintings by Paul Gauguin and Henri Rousseau. The two iconic modernist artists were selected as different tropes of escape, Rousseau having never left France yet creating tropical fantasies, and Gauguin who was constantly traveling in search of a physical paradise. In the Third Eye series, deSouza replays his own encounter with Western art history through a series of self‐portraits by canonical artists, from Leonardo da Vinci to Andy Warhol.
At first sight, the works in both series might appear as color abstractions, but closer viewing reveals their figurative sources. The dominant color in each work is determined from a particular spot in the original painting: in the Rdctns, the color is chosen from the “furthest point,” usually the horizon line; while in the Third Eye the color is selected from the mid‐forehead of each self‐portrait, the site of the proverbial “third eye.” Each work is created from a laborious process of digital “erasure” that falls somewhere between rubbing out and a rubbing, bringing the illusionistic depths––the lost horizons––to the literal surface of each image.
Allan deSouza’s works are currently on view in a solo exhibition, His Masterʹs Tools at The Fowler Museum, Los Angeles, CA. His works have recently been on view at The Krannert Museum, Champaign, IL (2010); Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France (2010); Walther Collection, Neu‐Ulm, Germany (2010); Loyola University Museum, New Orleans, LA (2010); 3rd Guangzhou Triennale, China (2008) ; 7th Gwangju Biennale Seoul, South Korea (2008); The Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh, PA (2007); In Snap Judgments at International Center of Photography, New York (2006) and travel to Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands and Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Memphis, TN; In Africa Remix at Museum Kunst Palast, Dusseldorf, Germany (2004) and travel to Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden (2006) and Hayward Gallery, London, England (2005); The Philadelphia Museum of Art, PA (2004); Museum of African Art, New York, NY (2003); The Studio Museum, Harlem, New York, NY and in Out of India, Queens Museum, NY (1997).