ARTISTEdwin Marcelin

Edwin Marcelin (b. 1974, Los Angeles) is an artist working primarily in painting and photography. A graduate of the California College of Arts and Crafts, Marcelin works in abstraction; his uses of shape, color, and material engage with ideas of modernism. Marcelin is particularly interested in the ways that abstraction expands possibilities of thought around black art.


APRIL 5 - MAY 4, 2024

Black Jesus

It’s known and discussed at length when MJ shows up anywhere, his presence is as obvious as air. Countless descriptions of him living with a radiance on and off the court still live in current lore, untainted by time. As his images of him “doing work” stay preserved in the digital world, as well as in the minds of all admirers, the consistency of his greatness never seems to tarnish or even patina. MICHAEL JORDAN. The name, image and brand remains intact and seems to be respected by the world, to leave it as it is, not daring to represent the Man as if it was sacrilegious. There are very few attempts at redefining him visually that don’t meticulously center around his frame in motion, controlling the composition, while beginning and finishing the expected success with a basketball in hand.

While finding the inspiration to connect to a man I know very little about, outside of what is passed on by others accounts, I find myself attracted to the layers of the man as new images of him are rare, as he has self-imposed transformation or death to his legend, as it stays intact in the minds of his followers. Instead of looking at the man’s fight, I am more interested as I get older, in the gestalt and expression of this icon. He has become sculptural and still to me. No longer do the details of his image need to be reminded. The vault of images that he left, remains unchanged and he has shown no interest in updating his persona. Like Jesus himself, he is famous for exploring his free will.

In the pieces I represent, what everyone already remembers, by stripping what we know of him visually and replacing it with bold colors and shapes that interact with the same consistency and focus, I feel he embraced himself. Wanting to ‘be like Mike’ is a cliche that never tires in the realm of popular conversation, but details like, with, Jesus are never mentioned.

While making the work, I have come to a conclusion that the Man lives in a constant meditation, as he carefully crafts what seems to be his authentic, unapologetic self. Leaving his intentions in space, is meant to remind the viewer of an excellence that is still just as contagious as it ever was, but also carries the inspiration of his constant pressure he put on people to perform at their best.

He called himself Black Jesus once, to make a point, and generations of his peers repeat the sentiment as if he had said it to them. In the spirit of abstraction, I attempt to find a sensibility that corresponds to how I, and others, experience him. The intention of connecting with the work, but having a ready made image in your mind to go along with the work, is an opportunity I wish to open up to fans of him. The relationship between experiencing the work and the files in the mind memory bank are forced to act simultaneously while viewing. I intend a person’s personal memories of him will interact with the work, bringing an alternative experience of a man who does not pose for pictures anymore.

The color palette is meant to share the same hues and vibrancy of stained glass windows that commonly depict scenes from the Bible, which often encompass church façades worldwide. Multiple beams of control and optimism lie on the surface, while layers of creativity and discipline are meant to bring in a complete representation of the man.

The Mercedes star that morphed into a stretched-out, floating man extending a ball into space – has been the lasting icon of my childhood. My personality changed at first sight, as I tried to emulate the man with as much swagger I could pull from the limited images available at the time. Every male I knew saw him the same exact way then as we do now — Michael Jordan is the most recognizable living legend of my lifetime, and he still has as much an impact on my spirit and my imagination as he did when he first showed up in our boxes on the TV screen. He lived in the electric box, in magazines, and on posters to those who never saw him in person.

Dare I say he is the most recognizable person world-wide, who is the least to be seen out and about having a normal human experience.

There has never been a day or image of doubt published of the man as he has lived, framed and composed, just as perfect as he would like to be remembered. More than two decades since, he has been relevant on the basketball court where his legend reigns supreme, his impact on my personality inspires me today, just as much as it did when in his prime. He is a hero that needs no introduction. The ultimate alpha male. The true Icon for Black success. He is our, my, Black Jesus.

Edwin Marcelin’s paintings exude a decisiveness with unwavering contemplation. Definitive in thought, yet what appears playful in production, Marcelin approaches the canvas with a confidence that belies his years-long experiences. He is creating a language that allows the viewer to step into his life-size visions and explore their complexities for themselves. He has afforded us a sophisticated, somewhat muted palette, which diffuses any notion of anything playful. Thought-provoking, fearless and unapologetic, Marcelin’s works are raw and uncut.

Terrell Tilford, Founder & Creative Director
Band of Vices, Los Angeles, CA