El Anatsui exhibits a new work at the 248th Summer Exhibition,
Royal Academy of Arts, London
Govinda Sah ‘Azad’
19 May – 25 June 2016
October Gallery, London, presents Boundless Possibilities a solo exhibition by Govinda Sah 'Azad’, comprised of mixed media works on canvas.
This summer’s exhibition marksSah’s third showing at October Gallery. Born in Nepal, where he studied Fine Arts at Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, before completing his MFA at Wimbledon College of Arts, in 2008, Sah now lives and works in London.
Effortlessly balancing traditional eastern metaphysical insights about the nature of reality with visual realisations that are in accord with the latest formulations of contemporary western science, Govinda Sah imagines a cosmos of boundless possibilities. A painter of tempestuous skies and cosmic explosions, Sah is drawn towards the unknown, intuitively shaping a response to the question: How was the universe created? Sah cannot conceive a universe without logic and purpose and yet his impulse is to ‘seek the sacred’.
Pushing boundaries in his new work, Sah physically engages with the jute and wooden stretchers of his canvases, creating deep openings, minute holes and shaped frames. Whilst still retaining his intricate painterly skills, carefully textured layers of paint are combined with more three-dimensional objects such as beads and hair to bring the evolving cosmos out of the flat plane. Sah also incorporates the use of fire, drawing from the very inspiration of his works; light. Just as light consumes darkness, he allows a flame to take over his canvases, its smoke forming natural peaks that evoke turbulent skies. Glimpses of precise graphical lines are visible through the intricate layers as the artist’s fascination with space aesthetically engages both science and mathematics.
EDDY KAMUANGA ILUNGA
First UK solo show
30 June – 30 July 2016
October Gallery, London, is pleased to announce its forthcoming exhibition of new works by Eddy Kamuanga Ilunga. This will be the artist’s first exhibition at the gallery, and his first solo exhibition in the United Kingdom. A private view will be held on 29th June.
Eddy Kamuanga Ilunga is one of the most exciting young artists working in Africa today. Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1991, he trained at the Kinshasa Academy of Arts and has founded the dynamic Congolese art collective ‘M’Pongo’, representative of the creative vibrancy to be found in modern Kinshasa.
In his present series ‘Mangbetu’, Kamuanga Ilunga has explored the predicament of the Mangbetu people, an ethnic group of warrior extraction in the DRC, whose culture is being threatened by a desire to modernise. The DRC is the world’s largest exporter of coltan, a raw material used in computer chips and mobile phones, and Kamuanga Ilunga pays equal reference to both this modern industry and the traditional culture of the Mangbetu, bringing their vibrant fabrics, symbolic objects and daily rituals into confrontation with the digital imagery of the present day. His paintings possess a monumental quality that is both heroic and elegiac, with a striking and sophisticated interplay of intensity and emptiness, two and three dimensions, and Congolese pattern painted as European drapery.
Kamuanga Ilunga’s work has been exhibited across Africa, notably at Dak’Art; Biennale OFF Senegal in 2014, and made its London debut at the Saatchi Gallery’s Panagaea II in 2015. The enormous excitement around the 24-year-old artist at London’s 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair in 2015 and at New York’s Armory Show in 2016 was compounded by an article in the FT’s How to Spend It, which employed his work ‘Lost’ to represent The Best of New York Armory 2016.
AND JAMES BARNOR
8 – 30 September 2016
This collaborative exhibition presents work by pioneering Ghanaian photographer James Barnor, and award winning Italian photographer Daniele Tamagni. Featuring Barnor’s analogue photographs of London’s growing multicultural metropolis during the ‘swinging 60s’ and Ghana in the 50s, along with new works by Tamagni of striking fashion sub cultures throughout contemporary Africa. This exhibition follows the launch of the publications: ‘Ever Young’, by James Barnor and ‘Fashion Tribes’, by Daniele Tamagni.
Daniele Tamagni, an Italian photographer, trained as an art historian before travelling worldwide to document colourful fashion subcultures. Shooting style in locations outside of the presumed fashion contexts such Brazzaville, Johannesburg, Nairobi and Dakar, Tamagni seeks and finds individualistic identity. In 2007 he won the Canon Young Photographer Award with a project about the Congolese dandys, Sapeurs of Brazzaville and in 2010 won the ICP, Infinity Award; fashion category. Tamagni’s subjects are reflective of James Barnor’s models of the 60s with fashion aiding their nonchalant confidence.
James Barnor, born in Accra, Ghana in 1929, began, like many of his contemporaries on the continent, by setting up a studio which was visited by general public as well as dignitaries. Working for the Daily Graphic, as their first photojournalist, and Drum magazine, the influential anti-apartheid journal for lifestyle and politics, developed his career rapidly. After moving to the UK in 1959, he continued to work on commissions for Drum, in London, shooting multinational models for its covers. Barnor’s portraits depict the self-assurance and individualistic fashion trends that dominated.
Style dictated the identity of Londoners during the sixties but continues to do so in contemporary society. Tamagni shines light on the renaissance happening in developing economies and the power of fashion to push economic and cultural boundaries today.
Most Recent Exhibitions
Sokari Douglas Camp
7 April - 14 May 2016
Internationally renowned sculptor, Sokari Douglas Camp, creates her works primarily in steel. Her often large-scale sculptures make frequent reference to her Nigerian roots, at the same time, encompassing contemporary international issues. Douglas Camp studied fine art at the Central School of Art and Design and the Royal College of Art. She has represented Britain and Nigeria in a number of exhibitions and has had more than 40 solo shows worldwide. Her work is in the permanent collections of the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; Setagaya Art Museum, Tokyo and the British Museum, London.
Primavera brings together major new sculptures which focus on the reinterpretation of familiar figures from the European classical tradition. The large work Europe supported by Africa and America, recreates and adapts an 18th century engraving by William Blake. This intricate composition features three female figures touching and supporting each other, dressed in contemporary clothing remnant of high fashion in Nigeria. The central figure holds a long wreath which grows into a fuel hose – the whole composition offers a wry commentary on social issues and their ramifications for wider environmental concerns. Other works reconfigure detailed scenes adapted from well-known Botticelli paintings, in which the instantly recognisable figures metamorphose into more modern icons of contemporary culture and society.
Douglas Camp is one of the winners of the memorial for Ken Saro-Wiwa in London, and was one of the shortlisted artists for the Fourth Plinth in 2003. She collaborated with Ground Force to create an African Garden for the British Museum, as part of Africa ‘05. In 2005, she was awarded a CBE in recognition of her services to art. Her critically acclaimed work Battle Bus travelled to Nigeria last year as part of Action Saro-Wiwa, a campaign to clean up the Niger Delta, eliciting nationwide support after having been held by local government officials.
4 February - 2 April 2016
El Anatsui, recipient of the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 56th Venice Biennale, is one of the most exciting artists of our time. This exhibition will present a new body of work by the artist that further explores the possibilities of the artist’s iconic bottle-top sculptures.
Throughout a distinguished forty-year career as both sculptor and teacher – he was Professor of Sculpture and Departmental Head at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka – El Anatsui has addressed a vast range of social, political and historical concerns, and embraced an equally diverse range of media and processes. His installations have provoked wide international attention, with institutions and audiences fascinated by these sumptuous, mesmerising works made from thousands of aluminium bottle tops. During the Venice Biennale in 2007, he transformed the facade of the Palazzo Fortuny by draping it in a shimmering wall sculpture. In 2010, two major touring shows of his work opened on opposite sides of the world: El Anatsui: When I Last Wrote to You About Africa at the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Canada (organised by the Museum for African Art, New York) and A Fateful Journey: Africa in the Works of El Anatsui at the National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka, Japan. As part of the 2012 Paris Triennale, he transformed the entire facade of Le Palais Galleria, Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris with his striking work, Broken Bridge. In 2013, the Brooklyn Museum, New York, USA, exhibited the touring solo exhibition, Gravity and Grace: Monumental Works by El Anatsui and the Royal Academy of Arts, London, presented the artist with the prestigious Charles Wollaston Award for his work, TSIATSIA – searching for connection, 2013, which covered the entire facade of the RA building. In 2014, he was made an Honorary Royal Academician as well as elected into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
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