Clifford Prince King’s debut solo show While Night Comes On Gently is a selection of tender and poetic photographs taken from 2017-2020.
The photographer explores themes of Black male queer identity by documenting intimate and vulnerable moments among friends and lovers.
There is texture and contact, skin on skin, sweat, hair, and humanity, love and absence swirl around the images, full as they are sparse. Love and loss fill the images like yin and yang holding each other tightly. Suffused with golden LA light, his pictures combine a sense of optimism with the unflinching reality of the human body.
Many experience night sweats but they’re regular for Prince King, who took the photo within a few days of his HIV diagnosis in 2017.
Safe Space (2020) opens to the familiar Prince King warm tan-yellow duskiness, the nutty smell of Eco Styler Olive Oil, with an oil serum nearby to best the hair’s slip, it’s grasp and tack; James Baldwin is in hand, No Sesso is at foot, and the neatness of these details, the ecology that they become, the peace they arrive at, feels nurtured, beautified, sincere.
Left: Our Last Blunt Together, 2019. Right: Safe Space, 2020. Both archival inkjet print on Photo Rag Baryta.
The majority of the work is centred around the time of day when the sun meets the horizon and creates a familiar tonal light often referred to as ‘golden hour’. The images suggest an end of the day mindset, which could take on many forms, like frustration, bliss, solitude, or the feeling of being reunited with your lover after another triumphed day.
Grapes, 2017, Archival inkjet print on Photo Rag Baryta.
And a last outstretched hand beckons the dawn of a new era, in The Day I Learned to Love Myself (2018) . Tenderness and lack move in ebb and flow, destabilizing the aesthetics of what safety looks like, while nodding that it is, indeed, present.
Older works round out the show, the bed series, neat, because it is sparse, here again, taupe sheets, worn-in wrinkled creased, and sweated in. Jacorie (2017) with that uncertain distant gaze, somehow more posed than others, and somehow more stripped back, stark, but unclinical. Grapes (2017) , it’s irreverent faceless reminder of sweetness, flirty.
Left: For What It’s Worth, 2019. Right: Untitled (bell-bottoms), 2020. Both archival inkjet print on Photo Rag Baryta
While Night Comes On Gently challenges the stereotype surrounding Black, gay men by making public these private intimacies.
Left: Jacorie, 2017. Right: The Day I Learned to Love Myself, 2019. Both archival inkjet print on Photo Rag Baryta
The exhibition is showing at The Gallery September 26-November 7 2020.
Courtesy of The Gallery @