dre-1“André LeRoy Davis is an artist, a writer, a journalist and a Teacher. Most recently he has been sharing his wealth of knowledge by teaching his craft to those from the age of six to ninety-six. Whether it be at the elementary school level, the High School level or with Senior citizens, André has been educating budding artists to all aspects of drawing, illustration, painting, cartooning and caricature by opening the door for them to be creative using visual Arts.”

I always liked humorous illustrations because they work like a comedian’s joke. It is a way to display a message and to entertain. This ability to make people laugh and make them think at the same time is a very strong power.

The exhibition was called “50 shades of Dre” and was held earlier this summer at the Harlem State Office Building. It may be an ironic title, but there is a real meaning behind it: Andre chose 50 of his favorite pieces for this event.

Even though I could notice that the general intention is to denounce I can put in light 2 very different shades.  I called the first shade “Mockery”. Most of the pieces can be associated with this shade. It shows Andre’s sense of humor and his analysis of the “Rap game”. Even though he really loves Rap Music, he loves just as much to make fun of it. He had some problems with some rappers that did not like to be mocked, but most of them laughed. He portrayed Jay Z, Nas , Chris Brown, Drake, Common, Rick Ross, Biggie and 2Chainz’s – my favorite, where the artist drew a fake album cover, replacing the rapper 2Chainz with Mister T.

The particularity of Andre’s work is that he takes a simple humorous illustration to a ”chef-d’oeuvre” level. He said that it takes him around one month to finish a piece because he draws very slowly. We all know that humorous illustrations link  to the news, and Andre used to work for magazines that were released once or twice a mouth. Before the internet and social media, news was not coming out that fast. Now it’s very different, humorous illustration come out every day. Today Beyonce is pregnant with another child, and tomorrow P.Diddy is punching his son’s soccer coach. There is joke material everyday! Nothing can really stay hidden with the internet and there is a strong demand for these kinds of illustrations.

The second shade is the less represented but the most important for me, I called it “Show the Pain”. It is pure denunciation. In the middle of all the humorous illustrations, you had one of these very strong illustrations.

My favorite is one that represents a fake 2500$ dollar bill, transformed into a hunting license for a Afro-American children in tears. It is precise that the hunting license has “no expiry date.”  This piece clearly points the increasing number of murders of young Afro-Americans in the past few years. They are the consequence of police brutality and racism.

It is very amazing how Andre’s work can touch you in so many different way. His capacity to entertain is as strong as his capacity to make to show what is wrong the world. That capacity
to create an image that speaks a thousand words.


salif2Contributed by Salif Cisse, Morningsider’s Summer Assistant – a student and performing artist visiting from Paris France.