Spotlight: American Artist and DJ Rozeal Makes Paintings That Fuse Edo Woodcuts With Hip-Hop Imagery

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Every month, hundreds of galleries add newly available works by thousands of artists to the Artnet Gallery Network—and every week, we shine a spotlight on one artist or exhibition you should know. Check out what we have in store, and inquire for more with one simple click. 

About the Artist: American painter Rozeal (b. 1966, Washington, DC) creates narrative paintings that blend influences from Japanese prints with African American aesthetic culture. Born Iona Rozeal Brown, the artist today lives and works in Chillum, Maryland. Rozeal earned a BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and an MFA from Yale University in 2002. She is represented by Keyes Art in Sag Harbor, New York.

Why We Like It: Rozeal’s paintings fuse images of Japanese geishas and kabuki performers with representations of hip-hop culture and vogue-ing. The artist is also a DJ and spent time living in Japan, where she recognized the Japanese appreciation of hip-hop culture. She also became fascinated by the phenomenon known as Ganguro—a style of make-up and fashion in which young Japanese women crimp their hair and darken their skin to look African.
For the canvases on view at Keyes Art, Rozeal primarily takes her inspiration from Japanese Edo prints and woodcuts, incorporating Ganguro women and men into the scenes. Her paintings often involve collage, too, adding dimensionality and visual depth to her canvases. 

According to the Experts:I have never been so taken by the style and beauty of someone’s work. Rozeal is present in her cast of characters who emerge from her soul. When in Japan, she developed a style of incorporating hip-hop culture with the historic style of reading of Japanese screens. In this marriage, she had created her own original world,” said Julie Keyes, director of the gallery.

Browse works by the artist below.

(2014)
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Rozeal, LISTEN+LISTEN=THE SOUND OF ONENESS (after “Emperor Xuanzong and Yang Gueifei playing the same flute, “ by Utamaro Kitagawa) (2014). Courtesy of Keyes Art.

Rozeal, (2014). Courtesy of Keyes Art.

 

Song of Songs 5:16 |True Majesty, True Faith What Is the Status: No Static Between Us Just the Statice and US (2013–2020)
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Rozeal, Song of Songs 5:16 |True Majesty, True Faith What Is the Status: No Static Between Us Just the Statice and US (2013–2020). Courtesy of Keyes Art.

Rozeal, (2013–2020). Courtesy of Keyes Art.

 

Ten Racks, Ten Stacks, X To Beam Aboard & Down, #Cap #NoCap (2012)
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Rozeal, Ten Racks, Ten Stacks, X To Beam Aboard & Down, #Cap #NoCap (2012). Courtesy of Keyes Art.

Rozeal, (2012). Courtesy of Keyes Art.

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