Devan Shimoyama American, b. 1989


Devan Shimoyama (b. 1989, US) is a visual artist whose work explores depictions of the black, queer, male body. Through the medias of painting, sculpture, printmaking and installation, he creates compositions inspired by classical painters such as Francisco Goya, or Caravaggio. However, Shimoyama’s use of materials is distinctly contemporary, as is the subject matter he depicts. He has stated that he wants the figures in his work to be perceived as “both desirable and desirous.” He is aware of the politics of queer culture, and the ways in which those politics relate to black American culture. These elements come together in his works in a way that is both celebratory and complicated.

The celebratory aspects come through in his choice of materials, such as fur, feathers, glitter and costume jewels like rhinestones, and sequins. These materials endow the figures in the works with a sort of magical aura and joyful spirit. Yet, many of the men in Shimoyama’s works also literally have jewels in their eyes, giving them a mystified expression, interrupting the connection between their inner selves and the viewer, and suggesting a sort of silent suffering. Many also shed tears.


Shimoyama was awarded the Al Held Fellowship at the Yale School of Art in 2013 and has had a residency at the 2015 Fire Island Artist Residency. His work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States.