NAVIGATING SPACE AND TIME IN AFRICAN CONTEMPORARY AND DIASPORIC ART

NAVIGATING SPACE AND TIME IN CONTEMPORARY AFRICAN AND DIASPORIC ART, JUNE 8TH-30TH @ THE BASEMENT, 41 CONDUIT STREET, MAYFAIR, LONDON WIS 2YF

Curated by Yvette Greslé, PhD

Abe Odedina, Eric Pina, Mário Macilau, Modupeola Fadugba, Nathalie Mba Bikoro, Shiraz Bayjoo, Tam Joseph, Wole Lagunju

PRIVATE VIEW: 6-9PM, WEDNESDAY 14TH JUNE

Exhibition Duration: 8th-30th June 2017
Opening Hours: 11am -6pm, Monday-Friday, Saturday & Sunday (by appointment only).

The Basement, 41 Conduit Street, London, W1S 2YF



What are the feelings, emotions and associations generated as visitors map routes through this exhibition? Viewers are invited to reflect on the sensate and textured languages of art objects that speak to the visual entanglements of geography and time. Shiraz Bayjoo mobilises found objects such as wooden jewellery trays and twentieth century mass produced furniture. These provide the ground for mixed-media paintings and the watery sensations of resin on printed images and painted surfaces. Indian Ocean islands are sites of colonial histories and independence politics. Memories are ghostly presences inhabiting objects and given material form in the textures of age and vulnerability. Mário Macilau’s black and white photographs explore the gradations and intensities of lightness and darkness: images include intimate and gentle meditations on transient, ordinary moments in the lives of children and young people in Mozambique as they live their lives surviving in a time tangled up in the violence of history. Nathalie Mba Bikoro’s photo etchings stage historical-political narratives not in a didactic sense, but rather through allegory and the memories and affects that these produce. Abe Odedina’s rich iconography and the relationships he imagines between human figures, objects and the natural world is distinctly allegorical. His bold, figurative works reference personal memories and anecdotes as well as mythological tales figuring symbolic imagery including golden crowns, magpies, butterflies, phallic symbols and paper planes. In Modupeola Fadugba’s work burnt and frayed edges and textures exist in dialogue with acrylic and ink surfaces. A female figure, the artist herself, treads water in a golden pool, a red ball floats ambiguously towards or away from her.
Time and place is intertwined throughout this exhibition: human and non-human animals; objects, memories, images, stories, languages and ideas travel, migrate, circulate and are transformed and reconfigured. Figures in African masks and Elizabethan attire or 1960s glamour are unexpectedly juxtaposed in Wole Lagunju’s paintings. Time moves: It is recast and scrambled as pasts and presents collide, overlay or brush up against each other. A future is yet to be formed and articulated. Tam Joseph humorously re-invents how we relate to portraits of well-known cultural figures transforming them into glowing, futuristic, other-worldly presences rendered in heightened colour. Eric Pina’s human figures inhabit ephemeral memory-worlds, unmoored from any fixed and knowable place and time.
This exhibition asks for the active participation of viewers as they walk in-between and across artworks, on the walls and on the floor, mapping their own routes and pathways. What kinds of dialogues might be imagined as viewers encounter art objects that hold the histories and memories of multiple geographical sites and times within their fabric?

Ed Cross Fine Art would like to thank the directors of The Conduit for their generous support for this exhibition.

Abe Odedina (b.1960, Ibadan, Nigeria, lives in London and Salvador Bahia). Odedina, who is a trained architect, started painting on a trip to Brazil in 2007 where he fell under the popular arts of Bahia and Pemambuco. Now a full-time painter, Odedina describes himself as a folk artist. The ideas inspiring his work are rooted in the rich figurative and oral traditions of African art, infused with a trace of magic realism. His work is exuberantly non-elitist, celebrating the power of the everyday and the mythical. The legibility of Odedina’s stylistic vernacular, warmly hailed as “Brixton Baroque”, is paramount. His allegorical works simultaneously inhabit different dimensions and gestures, engaging viewers in a conversation filled with personal and universal references.

Eric Pina (b.1972, Senegal, lives in Hanover, Germany). Pina attended L’Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts, Dakar before completing his training in France where he received a Degree from Ecole Supérieure d'Art de Mulhouse et de Haute-Alsace. He was selected for and exhibited at Senegal’s Dak’Art Biennale 2014 and has had solo shows in Germany, Switzerland, Canada and France. Pina’s work focuses on people and their momentary interactions stripped bare of architecture and their immediate environment. Figures are either on their own isolated journeys or movement or frozen in brief and always ambiguous encounters and reunions. The artist seeks to capture these snapshots of everyday life in the city. He is fascinated by the instant glimpse – the moment of the encounter.

Mário Macilau (b. 1984, Maputo, Mozambique where he lives and works). Macilau, who is a painter as well as a photographer, started his journey as a photographer in around 2003 from the streets of Maputo. His career began in earnest when he traded his mother's cell phone for his first camera in 2007. He specializes in long term projects often focusing on socially and economically marginalized groups. Macilau’s Growing in Darkness series was part of the Vatican Museum’s exhibition at the 2015 Venice Biennale and works from his Moments of Transition series celebrating the style of young Mozambicans featured prominently in Vitra Museum’s acclaimed Making Africa show. “As a photographer, I believe in the power of images and I've been exploring the relationship that exists between the environment, human beings, and time. Photography has connected me to incredible moments and experiences and all the places have taught me something valuable... I usually work on long-term projects which allow me to understand the stories before I even use the camera. I am then able to capture those moments after I've spent a lot of time with them and we have earned each other’s trust.”

Modupeola Fadugba (b. 1985 in Lomé, Togo, lives and works in Abuja, Nigeria) Fadugba holds a BEng Chemical Engineering / MA Economics (University of Delaware) and MEd (Harvard). Recent exhibitions include Dakar Biennale (Senegal, 2016); The Art Energy (London, 2015); and Design is the Personality of an Idea (Ford Foundation & African Artists Foundation, Lagos, 2015). Her installation The People’s Algorithm was awarded El Anatsui’s Outstanding Production Prize (2014) in the National Art Competition Grand Finale, and a 2016 Dakar Biennale Grand Prize from Senegal’s Minister of Communication. Through an organic and intellectual process incorporating game theory and play as forms of resistance, Fadugba’s work serves as a vehicle for activism and collective empowerment. She creates multi-media works full of active characters in symbolically laden environments – playgrounds whose figures challenge their surrounding hierarchies through alternative movements and viewpoints. The artist’s practice, often materialising itself on delicate burnt paper, is intrinsically related to time, texture, and the tension between a work’s surface and the ideas lurking beneath.

Nathalie Anguezomo Mba Bikoro (b.1985, France, spent the early part of her childhood in her father’s native country of Gabon, lives in Berlin and works between Germany, the UK, Brazil and Gabon). Bikoro’s interdisciplinary practice incorporates a synthesis of collaborative engagements and international community dialogue. She works widely across media: live art performance; sound and vocal art; film; literature and museum archives; body art; print; installation and mixed visual media. Most recently, in March 2017, she presented If You Fail to Cross The Rubicon, an evolving durational performance at the ICA London. This performance was presented in connection with the Performance and Uncertainty Symposium. Her practice has its roots in her development of a creative language in the course of her battle with childhood leukaemia throughout the 90’s. Bikoro’s critical creative practice is informed by discourses of histories, archives and theories on post colonialism, diaspora, migration, identities, afro and alter modernism and culture. Her work reveals and creates moments of synthesis and harmony between seemingly disparate, bodies of knowledge, cultural traditions and value systems. An exploration of creolized identity, heritage, memory and homeland, the artist investigates colonial past, tyranny, dictates of gender, traditions and mythologies.

Shiraz Bayjoo (b. 1980, Mauritius, lives in London) is a London-based artist. Bayjoo studied at the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff. He was artist in residence at Whitechapel gallery in 2011 and has exhibited with Tate Britain and the Institute for International Visual Arts (Iniva). He is a recipient of the Gasworks fellowship and the UK Arts Council grants for the arts. Recent work emerges out of his personal relationship to the Indian Ocean Island of Mauritius and a research practice that includes archives and oral accounts. His sensate and affective exploration of images, sounds and objects associated with personal and historical memory produces a multi-disciplinary practice encompassing found objects, painting, mixed-media, video and installation. “My works explore the tensions and dialogues that arise through processing the emotive icons of disappearing and fracturing cultural and religious identities through the language and gestures of abstraction”.

Tam Joseph (b. 1947, Dominica, lives in London). Joseph is recognised as one of the founding fathers of the Black art scene in the U.K. He is an important part of the history of British artists of African and Caribbean descent who came to prominence in the 1980's and whose work has profoundly influenced future generations of artists. Arriving with his parents from Dominica in 1955 aged eight, he was brought up in London where his interest in art and art history was awakened by a voracious consumption of art reference books at his local library and later by attending life drawing classes. After a year’s foundation course at Central School of Art and Design he joined the Slade, where he was the only student of colour but left after a term, objecting to overbearing attempts to mould his work. Recent exhibitions include Unexpected: continuing narratives on identity and migration, Ben Uri Gallery, London, 2016; No Colour Bar: Black British Art in Action 1960–1990 at London's Guildhall Art Gallery 2016; Dak’Art, Senegal, 2014.

Wole Lagunju (b. 1966, Nigeria, lives in the United States). Lagunju is a contemporary Yoruba artist trained in graphic design at the University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria. Wole graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Fine Arts in 1986. He is an accomplished illustrator, graphic designer, installation artist and painter. Drawing adeptly upon his childhood experiences in Oshogbo and professional life in urban Lagos, Lagunju's work is also associated with Onaism, a contemporary art movement of the Ife Art School dedicated to reimagining the forms and philosophies of traditional Yoruba art and design. His paintings and installations featuring the Yoruba adire fabric interrogate and explore themes regarding the changing nature of the traditional African market, a change that is primarily initiated by contemporary globalization while his recent series which draw upon images of Gelede masks and the Victorian era critique the racial and social hierarchies of the 19th century. Wole was awarded a Phillip Ravenhill Fellowship by the UCLA in 2006 and a Pollock Krasner award in 2009. He lives in the United States.

The curator Yvette Greslé is a London-based art historian, writer and educator. Yvette was born in Johannesburg and raised in the Seychelles islands. She holds an MA (History of Art) from Wits University, Johannesburg and a PhD from University College London. At present, Yvette is a Post- Doctoral Fellow (Global Excellence Stature Fellowship) at the University of Johannesburg; The Research Centre, Visual Identities in Art and Design (VIAD), Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture. She has published widely both as an academic and as an art writer on artists who have a relationship to the African continent and its diaspora. yvettegresle.com