Virgil Abloh at ICA: The creative polymath takes Boston

Virgil Abloh at ICA: The creative polymath takes Boston

Aug 26, 2021 Read More

Explore the artist’s genre bending 20 year retrospective at the Institute of Contemporary Art.

Virgil Alboh’s “Figures of Speech” traverses 20 years and countless media - from fashion to furniture to art and design. On view through September 26th at the ICA in Boston, the exhibition is a crash course in creative shapeshifting.

He’s a figure known to both work in and cast a black mirror upon consumerism, so naturally, the museum leveled up the gift shop concept to accompany the show. We were proud to help bring an element of his vision to life in Church & State, Abloh's immersive popup retail experience.

Abloh chose to create his namesake Yellowpop neon sign in our ‘Hot Pink’ colorway. Designed by Abloh specifically for the ICA exhibition, the graffiti motif is a bold statement that welcomes guests into the retrospective.

In the Right Place: Pyrex, Off-White, Louis Vuitton

For those unfamiliar with Abloh’s CV, we’ll offer up a quick primer. The Chicago native started in engineering, then picked up a taste for Bauhaus as a grad student studying at Illinois Institute of Technology (famously tied to Mies van der Rohe). As a young Black artist on the rise, his creative explorations continued to expand.

His first venture into fashion, a streetwear brand called Pyrex, was met with mixed reviews. In the ICA show, he takes the words of his harshest critics, and slaps them on a custom carpet with a smile. Similarly, his neon lit piece “You’re Obviously in the Wrong Place” nods to the experiences of young Black males in luxury retail settings. Clad in pieces from his second label, Off-White, the figures cast light on the irony of his career path. From making hoodies and sneakers to his current position as art director at Louis Vuitton, the show chronicles Abloh’s sartorial endeavours (among many other things)

“It’s sort of my investigation of an ‘institution,’ so that what’s inside looks like what I see outside, and I do that within fashion. I do that within music, painting, sculpture, film. It’s all an effort to make the inside look like the outside. My work isn't for the establishment. It’s made so that a 14-year-old kid comes in here and sees something they relate to. And the light bulb goes off in their head and they're like, I got it.” Virgil Abloh

Just Do It (All): A truly multimedia artist

Sculpture, painting, photography, music, film, design. Few other artists have ranged as far or wide. Originally mounted on his home turf at the MOCA in Chicago, “Figures of Speech” spans disciplinary rivers - everything from his work with Nike and Kanye West to art house films produced at the helm of Louis Vuitton.

In their coverage of the exhibition, the Boston Globe calls Abloh a “Warholian conceptualist with consumer critique at heart, and a genius marketer with no squeamishness about conspicuous consumption.” To us, that sounds like a hell of a show. And we’ll happily exit through the gift shop.

Yellowpop gifted the ‘Abloh’ custom neon sign as a charity donation to the ICA Boston.