Caleb Yono’s Inter Dimensional Femmes forge a realm of portraiture that crosses thresholds of being and emotion. While Yono’s larger artistic practice centers on performance, their ongoing series of close-up portraits tether the identities and movements that are met through the artist’s live and time-based work. In this way, Yono’s drawings are the space in which their feminine desires and aspirations are vividly sublimated, activating a domain that is felt deeply at various registers: calm, complex, luxurious, dark, direct, and—in any case—heightened. In Yono’s words, the Femmes are chthonic witch acrobat cat burglar psychic pageant queens.
Yono’s subjects are enveloped by decorative regalia and, by contrast, rich color-block backgrounds. Botanical details intertwine the works, as if each Femme is in a continual state of growth and transformation alongside the other. In the Pharmakeia sub-series, figures are surrounded and affected by numerous plants (in Greek, the word pharmakeia indicates both medicine and witchcraft). In other works, Glamour signifies both a trick and a spell, as a word also rooted in notions of enchantment and magic. A circle—possibly a moon or a floating orb of energy—appears in the corner of some images. In others, it transforms into an eye that is grasped between two fingers. And then again, these eyes multiply. Yono steadily forms one larger, central being who is forever and radiantly in flux—an angelic, occasionally animal, under- or other-worldly presence.
Wielding exquisite color palettes and a sharp style of mark making, Yono subverts the much longer human lineage of portraiture that their work lives within. Although each image presents a single likeness, Yono seeks to represent various facets of a femme self. Put another way, these works actuate a sphere of gender sorcery through their ever-evolving adaptations and mythic blooms that themselves are symbolic of the realms of love, death, and evolution in an apocalyptic century. In Yono’s drawings we find one self in many places, caught in a timescale of transmutation.
Caleb Yono (b. 1981) lives and works in Chicago, where they received an MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Yono’s work has been exhibited in galleries and institutions including Roots & Culture Contemporary Art Center, the Chicago Cultural Center, Andrew Rafacz in Chicago and Monya Rowe in New York. Yono has also worked extensively with s+s project in Mexico City and has performed and exhibited at the Centro Cultural del México Contemporáneo. They were the 2016 ACRE Residency performance scholar.
Caleb Yono: Inter Dimensional Femmes is curated by Laura Brown.