It’s nearly two years since Virgil Abloh tragically passed away, but his work and influence continue to echo across the design sphere. In Paris, Galerie Kreo has opened its expansive exhibition, Echosystem, dedicated to the creative polymath’s most recent works – alongside that of creatives who inspired him.
Curated by Hugo Vitrani, Echosystem dips into Abloh’s experiences coming up on the outskirts of Chicago, a Black kid with Ghanaian roots in a predominantly white neighbourhood, and his love of skateboarding culture. It also explores the evolution of Abloh’s most famous signature: his use of quotation marks to demand reconsideration and reappraisal of words, ideas or phrases.
Among the latest pieces is Abloh’s “WORLD LEADERS” ladder, its rungs etched with the names of Aaliyah, Michael Jordan, Malcolm X, Grand Mixer DXT, and Ella Fitzgerald – Black visual artists, musicians, activists and intellects. The ladder celebrates the Black leaders before him while simultaneously spotlighting the erasure of Black visionaries by white institutions – ‘A political and poetic glass ceiling that Virgil Abloh has continually been cracking’, says the gallery, which is the only one to rep the designer.
His “MIDWAY VILLAGE” bench draws on street culture, an austere and ultra-brutalist industrial form that reexamines the history of benches in public and private spheres. Benches serve as gathering points, places to rest – or activate, when used as ramps in skateboarding and parkour. Abloh draws attention to this dynamic through graphic outlining, which evokes the marks on a sidewalk and the wax used by boarders along curbs and benches.
Among Abloh’s brightly coloured pieces are objects and artworks by creatives he admired and shaped his visual language. These include Jean-Michel Basquiat, Erwan Bouroullec, Sophie Bramly, Martha Cooper, Bruce Davidson, Tom Dixon, Marcel Duchamp, Futura 2000, Konstantin Grcic, Gordon Matta-Clark, A. R. Penck, Jerszy Seymour, Pablo Tomek and Dondi White.