Over these past twenty years, he has created album artwork for some of the most emblematic artists in the hip-hop scene: Eminem, Lil Wayne, Nas, and Jay-Z to name a few. On the glossy covers of magazines like The Fader, XXL, or Vibe, he has helped to construct a narrative that conveys the story of hip-hop, a story that goes far beyond cheesy acts like MC Hammer. This is what made Californian artist DJ Quick say: “the world sees hip-hop through his eyes”.
And so the luxury spirits brand has put an exhibition space at his disposition from July 2nd onwards, overhanging the Charente River in France. All along the Quais Hennessy, in the town of Cognac, fifty of the photographer’s shots will be hung out, opening the public’s eyes to this still unknown and sometimes under appreciated universe. Through his many meetings, he’s raised up and promoted the aesthetic of an entire genre. That’s no doubt why these prints are so powerful, so simple, so appropriate. He may not have met pioneers like Tupac or Biggy in real life, but he more than makes up for it by snapping shots of their descendants. From the underground scene, hip-hop has today become a popular art.
The exposition Beyond The Covers demonstrates this evolution. After the first photos of stripped down artists like Lauryn Hill or the group NTM come photos that look more worked, more subversive, without ever being cliché. Hennessy has invited him to put his archives up for display, going through his work and his friendships. Taken from a collection of personal images, this monographic exhibit is special in that it ties together the story of the works themselves with History in a greater sense. It is through a selection made by the artist as well as Thibaut de Longeville (director, documentary filmmaker, and associate curator) that these two entities that are too often ignored by the public as they relate to one another have finally come together: art and History.
Jonathan Mannion : Beyond The Covers
Du 2 juillet au 29 septembre 2013
Quais Hennessy – 16 100 Cognac – France