Conversation Piece

  • We have found in the ashes what we have lost in the fire

    Rushdi Anwar, Conversation Piece #6
    Rushdi Anwar, We have found in the ashes what we have lost in the fire, 2018
    Rushdi Anwar, We have found in the ashes what we have lost in the fire, 2018

    A small town, north-east of Mosul, Bashiqa was once known for its onion pickles and olive trees. With a population spanning Kurdish Yazidi, Shabak, Assyrian and Arab Muslim, there are records of a diverse community at the site from the 13th century; undoubtedly, Bashiqa’s history stretches back further still, and it remained a tourist destination for Iraqis into the 21st century.

  • Wole Lagunju

    Gelede Portraits
    Wole Lagunju, Gelede II - Satire and Parody, 2013
    Wole Lagunju, Gelede II - Satire and Parody, 2013

    One might say that Yoruba is among the most powerful answers to the legacies of European empire. As the history of empire coalesced the world around a few European languages and the Judeo Christian religions, the potency and charisma of Yoruba beliefs, hermeneutics, aesthetics and theology has sustained its hold upon people across the African diaspora. And continues to grow. Wole Languju’s striking portraits are a testimony to this.

  • Édouard Manet, Olympia, 1863
    Édouard Manet, Olympia, 1863

    There are two women in Edouard Manet's infamous Olympia. We know a lot about one; reclining, pert and centre stage, is Victorine Meurent. As for the second woman, a servant standing behind Meurent/Olympia to present her with flowers, we know only her first name: Laure. Laure is black. 

  • Ni yn unig

    Anya Paintsil, Conversation Piece #5
    Ni yn unig, Anya Paintsil, 2020
    Ni yn unig, Anya Paintsil, 2020

    “Ni yn unig” – only us. Titled in Welsh, Anya Paintsil’s first language, Ni yn unig is based on a childhood photograph. The artist and her sister, aged circa seven and five respectively, have been rendered in textiles: not only how they were (“She was quiet; I was loud. I was such an angry kid, and she was this duckling behind me,” says Paintsil), but how they felt themselves to be. 

  • A boy with a toy

    Mário Macilau, 2018
    A boy with a toy, Mário Macilau, 2018
    A boy with a toy, Mário Macilau, 2018

    A boy stands centered in the frame. The eyes of his lightly painted face are closed. The foliage behind him, out of focus, situates him out of any identifiable place.

  • The Elephant Never Tires Carrying Its Tusks, Tiffanie Delune, 2020
    The Elephant Never Tires Carrying Its Tusks, Tiffanie Delune, 2020

    Delune’s excitement in staging encounters – setting, medium, sentiment – is palpable. It’s contagious, too; how could anyone resist travel-by-painting in a world whose borders have never felt so stark?

  • Searching for Libertalia

    Shiraz Bayjoo, 2019
    Screenshot: Searching for Libertalia, Shiraz Bayjoo. 2019.
    Screenshot: Searching for Libertalia, Shiraz Bayjoo. 2019.

    In Bayjoo’s Searching for Libertalia, ‘searching’ – with all its connotations of irresolution, journeying and betweenness – remains the operative word.

  • Warm Leatherette

    Abe Odedina
    Abe Odedina, Warm Leatherette, 2019. Acrylic on plywood, 122 x122 cm
    Abe Odedina, Warm Leatherette, 2019. Acrylic on plywood, 122 x122 cm

    Abe Odedina’s Warm Leatherette is an uncanny tableau, familiar and alien at once. On its surface – and when it comes to painting, what else is there? – we observe a girl. Sofa. Table, LP. A bottle, and two glasses.