This story is part of Image issue 5, “Reverence,” an exploration of how L.A. does beauty. See the full package here.
The work of Clifford Prince King has the intimacy of a conversation on the front porch with a cup of tea. His portraits welcome you with an averted gaze, like “Come in, and close the door behind you,” or with the sincerity of a stare: “I recognize.”
King, who is queer and Black, is interested in experiences — of connection, of longing, of memory, of masculinity. He’s a tactician of tenderness: Touch, desire, spirit, mood are rendered delicately; nothing ever feels forced. A person’s energy is lucid. A kitchen fade makes sense on its own terms.
Image Reverence stories
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Julissa James unpacks the art of putting someone’s face on your body
Dave Schilling learns what it means to be beautiful in Comme Des Garçons
Jean Chen Ho explores grief through IG thirst traps
Darian Symoné Harvin dives deep into sideburn style
For this project, King was asked to turn the lens inward for a series of self-portraits. Excavation, typically, isn’t achieved with one stroke; you chip away to reveal what’s been there all along. In these works, King does just that. The tradition of self-portraiture is about unpacking the layers of the self and one’s surroundings. It’s about finding one’s location, location, location in time and space. Here, he is. — Ian F. Blair