When You're on Another Planet and They Just Fly is a solo exhibition by the Los Angeles-based artist April Bey, which features new and recent works, it presents an immersive tactile installation that counters Western modes of representation by constructing a provocative, speculative future in which black presence and ingenuity are Earth and its inhabitants create life and sustainability. This expanding universe is named "Atlantic".
Rich in color, texture, and philosophical inquiry, the many figures and patterns are presented in the exhibition. From variegated calathea leaves to the unmodified Pepto Bismol pink sometimes layered in vibrant Caribbean homes, familiar to artists and viewers alike, yet taking on new ones in their native Atlantic Ocean meaning. Here, she bursts with memories of tropical landscapes and colors, adorns them with acrylic nails, textiles, and demure black figures, creating decadent damasks and regal portraits. The artist often uses her work to focus and empower black creatives, innovators, business owners, and subcultures, as far as large-scale mixed media paintings are concerned, when your limit is the sky, I'm in another you just fly on the planet, she portrays two tall black cowgirls to challenge the ultra-masculine image of the rodeo and reverse the history of whitewashing in the American West.
While vibrant and socially engaged, the artist reinvents the history of textiles in the Atlantic, bringing a new vision to black and queer communities around the world. The colorful world in which her subjects inhabit is rooted in richness and grandeur, suggesting that what Bei is depicting here is only a small part of this rich psychological space. In her meticulous rendering and staging of Atlantica themes, the artist highlights self-creation and the recycling of power, positioning their planet as the place where autonomous creative production generates all life.