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This is a preview of a text to be published in the forthcoming edition of the magazine Art South Africa. Copyright Art South Africa Magazine. The exhibition Pangaea: New Art From Africa and Latin America is at the Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York’s HQ, King’s Road, London SW3 4RY (2 April – 31 August 2014).
Exhibitions in London (about New Art from Africa and Latin America) run the risk of making a number of assumptions. Especially when staged as breaking new ground, advancing into the hinterlands of art worlds still to be recognised and consecrated by an imagined monolithic west. Pangaea, according to the catalogue introduction written by Gabriela Salgado, ‘takes its name from the pre-human landmass uniting Africa and Latin America’. The show ‘reunites the two former sister…
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Charles Sekano | . Bridesmaids Of A Wedding | 2009 – 2010 Mixed media on paper 61 x 86 cm
Maestro Arts, in collaboration with Ed Cross Fine Art, presents:
27 March – 6 May 2014
Charles Sekano ,The Geometry of Fate
Exhibition Venue: Maestro Arts, Riverside Quarter,Eastfields Avenue, London, SW18 1LP (Putney Bridge)
This second exhibition of Charles Sekano’s work curated by Ed Cross Fine Art takes us on a journey of exploration, revealing vibrant images of women filled with an acute interest and sensitivity to emotions, moods as well as music and landscape. The themes explored in Geometry of Fate revolve around women, music and nature. Women’s naked bodies and men smartly dressed in suits and hats seem to swirl around saxophones and pianos, bodies and musical instrument fusing in an harmony of shapes, with a classically jazz inspired nostalgia. As we see in the works of fellow South African artists Peter Clarke and the late Gerard Sekoto amongst others, music and rhythm are celebrated both in the theme represented and in the choice of lines, visual cues and cadenced composition of the works. In Sekano’s case the association with music runs very deep as he is both jazz pianist as well as poet and painter. Moreover most of the subjects of his works are drawn from the exotic if often harsh world of the Nairobi nightclubs in which he made his living for over thirty years.
Cohabitating with Jazz, a traditionally urban and nocturnal pleasure, nature and landscape strongly figure in the show, reflecting Sekano’s ties to the rich, wild and wondrous African landscape. Women are portrayed walking, working or playing in fields of lush green grass at times filled with small burgeoning flowers against which the women’s silhouettes are offset. Blue skies, foliage and trees form at once the foreground and background to the portrayal of sensuous women.
In the Geometry of Fate, colours are core to the palpability of the works. Deep blues, greens, violet, burnt oranges, champagne, lemon and vivid fushia are deployed in a harmonious and delicate balance, soft hues merge with deeper denser tones. Colours seem to play a vital role in fusing people and nature, in grounding the characters in their environment, in the here and now. Shapes and colours fuse to turn the artist’s ideas, interests and emotions in remarkable visions of place and time.
With a fine balance between abstract geometric patterns and figurative style Sekano brings to the fore the soul behind his faces. Noticeably, the men and women’s faces are strong and filled with life and emotions. The eyes are either closed, cast down, gazing away, pointing to a moment of self-reflection. The many characters in his work serve as a tribute and testament to the diversity of people in Kenya and are at once daring and melancholic, strong and vulnerable. The passion, fervor, sadness and pride on display call us to empathize with and to immerse ourselves in Sekano’s world. However, most arguably, his composition, colours and portaiture, whilst vividly drawing from African, convey universal values.
This exhibition brings together works from the artists time in Kenya (the 80’s and 90’s) together with new works post 2009 when the artist embarked on a new stylistic phase in which four-sided shapes assumed an increasing symbolic significance. His subjects remain female and are often strikingly beautiful but their forms are etched in to the paper with a series of geometric four-sided shapes that speak of another reality that coexists alongside natural beauty. The reality of life’s limitations – of benign human political structures that the artist has witnessed failing to materialize since his return to his home country as well as other structures, the grave included, that are inescapable.
Charles Sekano, now seventy years old, lives modestly in Pretoria. Despite having no studio and only limited funds for materials he continues to develop a prolific artistic practice and has a unique, if hitherto largely unacknowledged, place in the story of South African artists in exile. Due to the political turmoil of the 1950’s and the brutality of the apartheid regime of the time, Sekano’s family was scattered and he lived for thirty years in exile in Nairobi. In turn this brought him a major position in the history of Kenyan art as he rose as one of the foremost painters in Nairobi in the eighties and nineties.
A self-taught artist, Sekano’s career started in earnest and gained serious international recognition when he was taken on by Ruth Schaffner of Gallery Watatu in Nairobi. When Schaffner died in 1996, Sekano lost a significant actor ensuring his artistic visibility. It is in 2009 that Ed Cross located Sekano in South Africa and put on Seknao’s first exhibition in London: Charles Sekano: House of Women. Last year Red Hill Gallery in Nairobi staged a retrospective of Sekano’s work and in November the artist’s work featured in Circle’s highly successful East African art auction in Nairobi. Ed Cross Fine Art is today delighted to present Geometry of Fate and to once again bring Sekano’s beautiful, vibrant and bitter-sweet works to London audiences.
Ismaila Manga is one of Senegal’s most interesting artists. He graduated from Senegal’s Ecole Nationale des Beaux Arts in 1982 and later spent thirteen years in Montreal where he attended Ecole international du design de Montréal before returning to Africa determined to rediscover his own continent. His work features in collections both public and private, in Senegal, Europe, the United States, Canada and South America.
“Every image fights with death, containing the memory of what has gone, starting with the ancestors,” explains Ismaila. “On the other hand any denial of death weakens the vitality of our mental life. Myths, signs and symbols allow me to establish what seems to me to be the essence of our humanity: the temporal.”
“I use the passing of days and nights to mark on canvas the imprint of time, letting the latter do its own work, materializing in rust obtained by the oxidation of metals. The photos I use in my work are just memories which I project on to the canvas, marked by time and drawn with a lead pencil, the simplest of materials that an artist can use.”
For enquiries about Ismaila Manga’s work please contact:
Ed Cross email@example.com +44 (0) 7507067567
Nathalie Anguezomo Menier Mba Bikoro is a French-Gabonese interdisciplinary artist working with visual arts & live art performance.
With an education in Politics, Philosophy and Media Arts, Bikoro left France and the UK to return to Gabon to set out her work as an artist.
Her 10 year battle with leukaemia during childhood in Gabon, the Netherlands and France has influenced the narrative and methods in which she chooses to create her work. This personal struggle for recovery and return back to her family has pushed her visual language as well as setting goals to develop independent creative initiatives in the arts and culture lead by local people. Her aims and objectives are to incorporate converging arts and sciences into her own practice and research towards developing a Cancer Recovery Arts Centre. She aims to do this by incorporating creative spaces for interaction for children and adults in Libreville, Lambarene & Bitam (Gabon) and by developing educational collaborative community projects lead by local people.
Mba Bikoro uses the vocabulary of various art forms to make works that function to create fractured narratives and blurs boundaries between meaning, experience and aesthetics. Her alternative live art performances are unique interpretations of historical mythology and challenging appropriations of a knowledge far from ordinary. In doing so she highlights, accentuates and magnifies elements of the relationships present within these spaces.
Her practice proposes a composition of sound, body movement, archaeology and digital performance and encourages interactive response. Her approach responds to people and spaces mediating a great awareness of combining politics and philosophy.
For enquiries about Nathalie Bikoro’s work please contact:
Ed Cross firstname.lastname@example.org +44 (0) 7507067567
Ed Cross was recently interviewed by in Omenka Magazine. Ed discusses his introduction to African art and his time spent in Africa as a sculptor. Ed shares his thoughts on the current state of the market and how selling African art online is growing in popularity and profitability.
Read the full article: http://issuu.com/richardmudariki/docs/85/1?e=8722852%2F5808048
Ed Cross was recently interviewed by Rachel Hamada for This is Africa about the contemporary African art market and art scene. Ed believes that the market has reached a tipping point, and that it is now getting the attention it deserves.
What does this increasing interest in contemporary African art mean for the artists involved? Is the term ‘African’ being painted with too broad a brush? Ed offers his opinions into these issues in this insightful article.
Kimathi Donkor is a British artist living and working in London whose large, figurative oil paintings have been exhibited in museums and galleries across the UK and internationally.
Hailing from a family with roots in Ghana, Jamaica, England, Zambia and Poland, Donkor’s meticulously crafted compositions draw on the traditions of portraiture and historical painting. Yet the themes of his work address dramatic modern subjects – ranging from urban conflict in contemporary London to the adventures of Ghana’s anti-colonial heroine, Yaa Asantewaa. Sitters are often friends or family, which, he believes, imparts a degree of intimacy to the monumentality of his figures.
Donkor is a master painter in a digital age, but his work is anything but anachronistic. It is steeped in historical, contemporary and art history references that inform, entertain and challenge the viewer. His paintings are both beautiful works of art and complex political/historical conundrums, arising out of his own heritage and at times challenging personal journey and his astute study of history and art history.
In 2012, Donkor was commissioned by Iniva (Institute of International Visual Arts) to produce new paintings for his acclaimed Queens of The Undead solo show at Rivington Place, London. In 2011, he was the recipient of the Derek Hill painting award for the British School at Rome, which included a three-month residency in Italy, studying the work of the Baroque master, Caravaggio.
In 2010, the artist’s paintings were exhibited at the 29th São Paulo Biennial in Brazil. His Caribbean Passion paintings are currently on long-term display at the Usher Gallery museum in Lincoln. From 2009 to 2011, Donkor collaborated with the artists Raksha Patel and Eleni Zagkali alongside a group of young Londoners to create artworks for the Seeing Through participatory project at Tate Britain.
Writing about the artist’s work has appeared in Frieze.com, Studio International, The Guardian and Visual Culture in Britain amongst many other journals.
Kimathi Donkor has been has been the recipient of two full-time painting bursaries from the Arts & Humanities Research Council. He gained his Master’s degree in Fine Art at Camberwell College of Arts (2010) and his Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art at Goldsmiths College (1987). He is currently completing a doctorate in painting at Chelsea College of Art and Design.
For enquiries about Kimathi Donkor’s work please contact:
Ed Cross email@example.com +44 (0) 7507067567