Vanity Pop

January 19, 2024 - February 24, 2024

Artwork by Vakseen

Ostrich Dreams, 2022
acrylic on canvas
20″ x 20″
photo courtesy of the artist

This exhibition is curated in coordination with The Midway Culinary residency featuring Sister, Mother, Crone.

About the Artist

Museum-exhibited visual artist, painter, crypto artist, diamond and multi-platinum music executive, producer, and songwriter Otha “Vakseen” Davis III, was born to a military family in Athens, Georgia, spending most of his formative years in Jacksonville, Florida. Best known for his vibrant acrylic portraits, Vakseen grew up artistically inclined; drawing, painting and playing several instruments including the violin. 

Not often is art characterized as a “panacea,” but Vakseen is a multi-hyphenate whose art has been described by one of his collectors as having “the ability to set the stage for a much-needed therapy session that challenges one to get to the root of any issues hindering progress or living one’s best life.” His pseudonym “Vakseen” (which he also uses as a producer and songwriter) represents being the cure in life. He believes “you can complain about the things in life, or we can be the cure and make the change!” And, his art serves as his own antidote to maintaining sanity in the fast-paced entertainment industry, where he also works as a music executive head of Vakseen LLC, a company specializing in A&R Management, Production, Songwriting and Artist Development. 

While working on hit records have played a driving force in his almost 20-year long career, Vakseen has been an active contemporary realist painter since moving to Los Angeles in 2011. The self-taught creator is known for two distinct bodies of work: “Vanity Pop” and his “Legends Only” series.

“Vanity Pop” celebrates diversity & the acute imperfections & endless perfections that exist within every woman. Although most observers mistake his work as a collage or mixed media art, each creation is in fact meticulously hand painted to blur the boundaries between perception and reality. By juxtaposing his subjects with diverse “perfect” features, Vakseen believes it speaks to the fragmentation within us all as we strive for acceptance in a world full of unrealistic standards.

“Legends Only” is a series that celebrates Vakseen’s favorite pop icons and cultural icons. These vibrant portraits are created to celebrate his love for pop culture and to keep their legacies alive, while connecting people worldwide through shared admiration. “Everything about our culture is preserved through art and the youth, so I just wanted to create something that could be shared with my son or my grandmother and still have the same impact. Music is so powerful, and I love how it connects us ALL.”

Currently based in Los Angeles, Vakseen’s art has been featured by major brands like the History Channel, NAACP, Nike, Adidas, Vans, Bombay Sapphire Gin, Tupac Shakur’s estate, as well as Bo Diddley’s estate. In addition to being sold to collectors and art enthusiasts, his work has been shown in countless gallery exhibitions (WMOCA, MOCA Cleveland, African American Museum of Dallas, Soho House London, Scope Art Show, Art Basel, LA Art Show, Thinkspace Projects, Ontario Museum of History & Art and Brownsville Museum of Fine Art) and featured in over 100 print & online magazines worldwide (American Art Collector, Forbes, Artnet, Hi-Fructose, Complex, Coindesk, Architectural Digest, Buzzfeed, LA Weekly, Fine Art Connoisseur, Juxtapoz Magazine).

With celebrity collectors and television features in hit shows like HBO’s “Insecure”, FX’s “Snowfall,” HBO’s “Rap Sh!t”, Peacock’s “Bel-Air”, Hulu’s “Reasonable Doubt”, and more, Vakseen’s rapid rise has been seismic. His aim is to produce art that consistently ignites discussion, captivates the senses, and connects people with his culture. Whether you catch a glimpse of Vakseen’s work in a television scene, on a billboard, magazine page or in-person at a gallery, one thing is for certain, his work will take you on an unexpected journey, laying witness to the thoughtful execution of composition and the tangible emotions the pieces invoke. A viewer is guaranteed to feel differently after catching a glimpse of Vakseen’s treasured artistry. 

Artist Statement

My mission as an artist is to consistently produce vibrant, thought-provoking creations that captivate the senses, and connect people with my culture. My distinct creations celebrate beauty, excellence, pop culture, and diversity, but at the core, they’re all inspired by and celebrate the Black experience. Art is such a powerful vessel and I love how it empowers and connects us all. 

Naturally, I’m driven to be one of the greatest artists in history, but my biggest goals align with fostering community. I hope to continue teaching, leading, and inspiring young creators. Especially those who look just like me. Art was never supposed to be an option for me; especially in the traditionally exclusive art world. Through art, I’ve been fortunate to see my wildest dreams come to life. I want young kids to know that our voice is powerful, it matters, and every single dream is possible. 

Opening reception Friday, January 19th, 6-9pm at The Midway Gallery.

Reception is free with a cash bar. Sister, Mother, Crone will be open for dining – reservations highly suggested.

Follow Vakseen on Instagram
Learn more about the artist

For inquiries email [email protected]