Photographer and Philadelphia native Quil Lemons has cut the ribbon on his first solo exhibition, titled Quiladelphia. The showcase, which is currently on view at the Hannah Traore Gallery in New York City’s Lower East Side neighborhood, offers a “deeper retrospective of representations of the Black male form” through intimate imagery that looks to dissect the queer psyche.
“I wanted to welcome folks into what it is to live life as a Black gay man,” said Lemons. “I let my camera navigate everything I see. When it came to shooting, I was letting people into my brain. It was not to make Black nudity and sex into art. Everything I embody is what these images are and mean to me. This is ME. Welcome to my brain.”
The photographs, which were captured on film with a variety of cameras, are meant to provoke their viewers. Spotlighting subject matter that might be uncomfortable for some, Lemons’ work references that of disruptive artists like Lyle Ashton Harris, Mark Morrisroe and Robert Mapplethore, while still remaining modern.
Lemons’ muses include a diverse cast of men whose identites range from straight to trans and queer. In monochromatic pictures, the photographer unapologetically champions the “sensual beauty” of his friends, old and new.
“Younger me would not even take these images. Half my family is Muslim and half Christian,” Lemons added. “To be able to do this took a lot of healing, self-acceptance, and bravery, to be able to just walk out of my house and be a Black gay person.”
Quil Lemons’ Quiladelphia show will be on view through November 4 at the Hannah Traore Gallery, located at 150 Orchard Street. Take a look inside the exhibition in the gallery above.
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