A Haven. A Hell. A Dream Deferred, a solo exhibition by Lina Iris Viktor, is on view at the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA). This exhibition presents her first major museum showcase. Installed in the Great Hall, Viktor's work occupies the full length wall leading towards the staircase. Framed by ionic columns, fantastical portraits of Viktor, embellished in 24-karat gold, royal textiles, and elaborate dress, lead visitors into a narrative reimagination of colonial past.
Lina Iris Viktor is a Liberian-British artist. A Haven. A Hell. A Dream Deferred is a deep study in the founding of the West African nation of Liberia. In 1822, out of fear of a massive uprising during the legislative abolition of slavery in America, the American Colonization Society established Liberia as a liminal zone for the resettlement of free-born and formerly enslaved Black Americans in Africa. Lina's new works in this exhibition analyze this facet of Liberia's history through the symbolic "Libyan Sibyl" — a classic truth-telling figure said to ominously reveal and bring monumental change.
Her artistry has always drawn influence from African culture and spiritual iconography, this body of work being no exception, and its effect all the more potent. West African symbolism, ancient gilding techniques, textiles, styling, and dress, Viktor's portraits weave a rich telling of the forgotten story of Liberia to the trans-Atlantic slave trade and American colonization.
Our work with Lina to produce the artworks in this show was to produce the printed stages of each portrait that she then took and continued to paint, guild, and work on top of. Part of this process was also to ensure that the photographic captures of the artist was represented perfectly. Color correction of the skin, and preservation of minute details in the patterns, were amongst many things critically tended to in the production of these images. We welcomed Lina into our studio for these prints to see them in person, which is always a delight.
Exhibition photographs courtesy of the New Orleans Museum of Art. Studio photographs taken by Brooklyn Editions. All artwork courtesy of the artist, Lina Iris Viktor.