Lee- Roy Zozo
Lee-Roy Zozo’s works are closely linked together: a colossal portrait of a young woman holds the mask of her ancestor, a modernised African sculpture is painted over reinventing a new school of tradition, and smaller abstract paintings adds a space for colour, and playfulness.
The colossal portrait of a young woman titled ‘Speaking in Tongues’ originates from concept of displacement: embracing the fact that she was raised away from her cultural country, she holds the mask, as if holding on to her roots, valuing both sides of her identity, standing atop the amalgamation of cultures. It’ questions connections beyond the physical, beyond features that makes you who you are.
The concept of masks can have different meaning: either it is something you hold to hide something else, as a tool to fit within society, but here it holds more cultural meaning. The mask is also commonly used in East African rituals, invoking ancestors during circumcision as a right of passage to a different mental state. Echoing the sculpture in the series, it opens a conversation with our inner reality, and brings into question: who are we, really?
Lee-Roy Zozo (b.1996, UK) is a visual artist who navigates between France, Guadeloupe, and the UK. His studio is currently located in London.
Lee-Roy Zozo has a great fascination for wood, which he uses as his main medium. From carving, burning, and painting on it, the material goes through a series of transformations to create captivating and beautiful figurative and abstract paintings. The artist connects his use of material to expression of energy, and historical and cultural concepts.
Zozo explores the different ways to use wood by sculpting and subtracting the medium, working extensively with shadows and light. He directly carves the figure from his painting, utilising the patina of the raw wood which exceptionally translates the skin colour of his characters. In this manner, the artist also links the symbolic properties of wood to people with melanin and taking the viewer back to ancient times when individuals would hand craft into representational, celebratory, and protective ritualistic symbols.
In earlier painting, the artist was transferring amalgamation of conversations with his entourage, and created a visual language that could directly speak to the viewer spiritually. Another part of his practice was about the representation of Black women, how they are traditionally and currently represented in popular culture, considering ideas around status, objectification and the intersections of race, gender, and class. Today Lee-Roy Zozo's practice is evolving to the exploration of personal human sensory attributes.
Lee-Roy Zozo has had several exhibitions across London, notably at the Oxo Tower, Copeland Gallery in Peckham, and Unit 1 Gallery among others. He recently was featured in Portrait Artist of the Year 2023 on the acclaimed TV Show with Sky Art.