Navigating Space & Time in Contemporary African and Diasporic Art

8 - 30 June 2017

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

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?

Text by Yvette Greslé