This work debuted as part of Devan Shimoyama's innovative and engaging Barbershop Project, which opened on May 4th, 2019 in Washington, DC.
Reporting for DC’s local CBS affiliate, Michael Quander wrote, “Inside of a big, blue shipping container on Mississippi Avenue in Southeast D.C., you’ll find a fully-functioning barbershop adorned with rhinestones, silk flowers, and paintings to make you think.”
Lori McCue, reporting for dcist, added, “There’s black and white tile on the floors and swiveling barber chairs, sure, but there’s also groovy rhinestone-studded custom-made furniture from D.C.-based designer Caleb Woodard,and citrus-colored flowers lining the mirrors. Shimoyama’s own psychedelic collage-painting hybrid works, which depict figures getting haircuts, line the walls. It looks something like a salon in a Tim Burton movie set in the future.”
Reporting for Washington’s Top News (WTOP), Madeleine Simon said, “There’s no shortage of art museums in D.C., but a new exhibit is offering visitors something most galleries won’t have: free haircuts. The Barbershop Project is the latest installation inside the Mobile Art Gallery, the shipping container-turned-gallery in Southeast, D.C., run by the non-profit CulturalDC. The project is a celebration of the art of hair and barbershop culture, and is designed to be inclusive to everyone — particularly for those in the LGBTQ community.”
Artist Background: 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.
Devan Shimoyama, The Barbershop Project, 2019, Washington, DC, United States