n o i t i b i h x E e h T
PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE: AN ODE TO BLACK BRITISH ARTISTRY
PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE: AN ODE TO BLACK BRITISH ARTISTRY
26 - 29 . OCT 2015
WITH THANKS TO
L U B A I N AHIMID Tailor Singer Striker Dandy, Manchester Art Gallery, Platt Hall Museum of Costume, Manchester (2011)
FOREWORD Don't let the mirror be the only place: a note to young Black artists in Britain today from an old woman who tried to follow the rules. In the 21st century, if you are Black and you live in Europe and you want to see a reflection of yourself and the lives of people like you, the watching of television, the reading of newspapers and visits to mainstream cinema are all a waste of time; a distorted replica is all you will find. You will still even now, be depicted as a cheating overpaid sports personality, a desperate but guilty victim of war and devastation, or a vacant, clueless exotic. You may feature, before your early downfall, as a gun toting criminal or even a dead jazz legend, maybe even a feisty sex worker but you will only be seen and remembered as a kindly community elder or member of the nursing profession if you are exceedingly 'lucky'. Ordinary life in Britain is speckled with the thin and bitter threads of racism from the bottom to the top but luckily it is also bursting with creative activity and many of the people trying to redress the balance between one and the other are young Black artists. Balance my initial pitiful and bleak vignette above with work by artists in this exhibition. Iintense, determinedly well made self portraits, heart- warming photographs of friends and family, clever graphic design, experimental sculpture and drawings, smart documentary work full of integrity. Then, add to the mix a thorough examination of the history of the work of Black Americans working in the late 20th century but still making strong work today. Artists including, Betye Saar, David Hammons, Carrie Mae Weems, Lorna Simpson and Glen Ligon. Look ahead, plan well. All of this will give you the energy to go on and fight for the creative space to experiment with ideas and materials, it will give you the nerve to battle for the opportunity to critically debate in public some of your new ways of thinking and collaborating. It is undoubtedly true that your work has to be better than any one else's, but whoever you are and whatever you make must be visually dynamic and true to itself (and passionately true to you). If the international contemporary art arena is the place where you want to perform, you have to play by the many rules which dictate the game, some of these are that: 1.You must produce pieces that completely challenge and yet subtly reference the canon. 2.You must be able to be deeply articulate and ready to talk and write about your research. 3.You must dare to fail. 4.You must make real friends who can support you on an industrial scale. If you decide that this makes sense, please remember also to step outside the comfortable, walk the tightrope, push the materials and the working methods to their limit, look in the mirror, help fellow artists reach their potential and live a long long life.
Contemporary Artist and Professor of Contemporary Art at the University of Central Lancashire.
P R E F A C E
Past, Present Future: An ode to Black British Artistry, explores the progression of Black British artists in contemporary art. Eclectic and enlightening, the array of photography, paintings and sculpture bring light to young, emerging artists into one space. The art in the exhibition reflects stages of growth, identity, and integration in a harmonious and profound way. Inspired by a need for a greater dialogue within the arts, the works in Past, Present, Future: An ode to Black British Artistry, illustrate the significance of a new generation of artistsâ€™ contribution to British contemporary art. Past, Present, Future: An Ode to Black British Artistry is part 1 of a 3 part series. These artists exude artistic innovation and are challenging the constraints and exclusive nature of British contemporary art.
Curated by Shanice Bryce and Suzette Intsiful, founders of SSPACEÂ° www.ss-pace.com firstname.lastname@example.org @ss_pace
T H E A R T I S T S
Adama Jalloh Amaal Said Irvin Pascal Koby Martin Mathieu Ajan Naa Merley Okine NXSH Olivia Twist Sumuyya Khader Willkay
Adama Jalloh studied Commercial Photography at Arts University Bournemouth and graduated in 2015. Her work mainly focuses on Social documentary and portraiture and often explores themes such as race, identity and culture. Recent on-going projects include the disproportion of stop and searches amongst Black and Asian men (You Fit the description) and Gentrification within South- East London (Aylesbury Estate). Adamaâ€™s images display London life and the issues revolved around it, so that a dialogue is established amongst the audience. For personal work, she mostly uses film cameras. Adamaâ€™s work has been featured in publications such as British Journal of Photography, Dazed and Confused and Huck Magazine.
YOU FIT THE DESCRIPTION PHOTOGRAPH 297mm x 420mm. 2015.
PHOTOGRAPH 297mm x 420mm. 2014.
SHADRACH NOEL PHOTOGRAPH 297mm x 420mm. 2015.
PHOTOGRAPH 297mm x 420mm. 2014.
SOUTHAMPTON WAY PHOTOGRAPH 297mm x 420mm. 2015.
AMIIN & ANISA (Left & Right) DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPH 420mm x 594mm. 2015.
“I am frightened of forgetting. I take the photographs; write poems and film all in the hope of having something to remember my existence, as well as the existence of those that I love.” Amaal Said asked her siblings to stand by a window. They didn’t understand why she was taking her time, making sure she captured the moment as best as she could. Amaal is obsessed with capturing people in the right light. She is intrigued with shadow and what it means to live and love in the shadows. For Amaal, taking photographs became easier than writing. She took pictures of her family members, which gave her the courage to ask them questions, things she’d wanted to talk about but didn’t feel comfortable enough to ask yet. So she stood with the camera over her little sister and asked her, ‘do you feel beautiful? When do you feel most beautiful?’ And like that, the camera became another form of touch, a way to get closer. Amaal is also interested in what we find beautiful and how we can push the definitions of beauty. The women she has photographed have stood in front of a photo of themselves in awe of their own beauty. For Amaal, that is always the best joy.
Irvin Pascal is an MA Fine Art Student at the University of Brighton. His work explores the relationship between blackness and recycling culture. With influences as diverse as Fela kuti and Andy Warhol, new insights are distilled from both mundane and transcendant textures. Irvin is fascinated by the theoretical limits of the human condition. What starts out as triumph soon becomes finessed into a hegemony of futility, leaving only a sense of nihilism and the prospect of a new understanding. As wavering derivatives become transformed through boundaried and personal practice, the viewer is left with a hymn to the edges of our era.
FALLING OIL ON CANVAS 1630mm x 2400mm. 2015.
AFRO MUSE OIL, SAND, OIL STICK ON CANVAS 762mm x 1016mm. 2014.
BLACK SUPERSTAR OIL, SAND ON CANVAS 304.8mm x 406.4mm. 2014.
PLASTER, GRAPHITE 500mm x 990mm. 2015.
Koby Martin has been responsible for various creative contents across the world. He has created the Debut Album Cover for Hip-hop duo Krept & Konan under Virgin Records & Def Jam, Front and Back Cover Illustrations for Music Week, Joint Exhibitions with Adidas, Animation campaigns for the African Footballers In Europe (A.F.I.E) awards, single covers and tour merchandise for dynamic Norwegian duo Nico & Vinz, creative content for Disturbing London (home of artistes such as Jessie J, Wizkid, Tinie Tempah, All about She etc. The Private Plane, an American Arts and Entertainment Agency powered by Google, Universal Music Studios,Tribute artwork of Komla Dumor for Akwaaba UK Magazine, amongst many others. He is also the co-founder of a creative group called V.V.X, (Very Very Xtraordinary) [vvxcreatiivegroup.com], a platform he set up to exhibit and sell his artwork as well as manage his day to day activities as an illustrator. His first exhibition was at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry, following up with his sophomore, which was a collaboration with Social Architeks in London. He also recently had a pre-show exhibition with myrunwaygroup at the O2. Koby is currently gearing up for his 3rd Solo exhibition later this year. His artworks and various commissions can be purchased and viewed at Kobmart.com. Koby Martin is a proud export of Ghana, whose talent and God given gift was nutured in his motherland and polished in the UK, where he is doing exploits in the creative arts industry worldwide.
SUPER HERO KIDS DIGITALLY ILLUSTRATED ON CANVAS 760mm x 1000mm. 2015.
DANCING WITH FEAR DIGITALLY ILLUSTRATED ON CANVAS 760mm x 1000mm. 2015.
FOR THE LOVE OR FOR THE MONEY DIGITALLY ILLUSTRATED ON CANVAS 800mm x 800mm. 2015.
KINGS DIGITALLY ILLUSTRATED ON CANVAS 760mm x 1000mm. 2015.
LOADED ART-ILLERY DIGITALLY ILLUSTRATED ON CANVAS 760mm x 1000mm. 2015.
GODS GIFT DIGITALLY ILLUSTRATED ON CANVAS 760mm x 1000mm. 2015.
MATHIEU AJAN Mathieu Ajan’s photography often has a cinematic style and is strongly influenced by his love for film and cinema. Passionate about working with young people and the power art has in building communities, Mathieu regularly works with young emerging Artists to help develop their technical and personal skills. For Mathieu, it’s all about breaking boundaries and getting out of one’s comfort zone. His work reflects significant aspects of his life. “I feel like I create my best work when I’m emotional.” With a background in Sociology, Mathieu Ajan has harmoniously combined photography and film, where he questions feelings of identity and belonging in relation to society and the world around him.
UNTITLED (Left & Right) PHOTOGRAPH 297mm x 420mm. 2015.
NAA MERLEY OKINE
Naa Merley Okine (pronounced, “nah-mare-air-lay oak-aye-n”) is an emerging, South London based artist and recent fine art graduate of The Art Academy, London. She works mainly in oil paint and is currently focusing on portraits and figurative work. In her paintings, Naa Merley explores themes of identity, purpose and ‘otherness’ and she likes her images to portray a strong narrative. It is important to Naa Merley that her portraits reflect the complex and diverse nature of each sitter’s personality, background and story. She has a particular interest in depicting stories from the African diaspora, which are usually underrepresented or distorted. In her work, Naa Merley has a tendency to use bold vibrant colour, dynamic compositions, pattern and rich textures put together in broad gestural marks. She is influenced by the School of London artists (Lucien Freud in particular), as well as Seydou Keita and African textile prints.
KWAME OIL ON CANVAS 1220mm x 1530mm. 2015.
LISA OIL ON CANVAS 760mm x 1220mm. 2015.
MALACHI OIL ON CANVAS 500mm x 600mm. 2015.
NXSH is an East London based artist and Photographer. Her main focus and points of interest lie with photographic portraiture and painting, using her work to explore current events, creative consciousness and themes regarding race and cultural histories, observing elements beyond the surface of society and what is portrayed in the media. NXSH shoots mainly with digital and 35mm film but has recently begun exploring the use of video in more recent projects. PAINTED AND DRAWN PORTRAITS As well as focusing on technical skills and traditional techniques NXSH explores running themes inspired by music, art and cultural influences from Africa and the diaspora within her painted and drawn portraits. ABSTRACT PAINTINGS The abstract pieces are what NXSH would call â€˜visual introspectionsâ€™ Whilst none of the works are created with a specific meaning or plan in mind, a narrative can be found in the finished piece. The process of creating these works is cathartic. NXSH is more connected to her art when she uses instruments that have a more primitive feel. Each colour has a connection to an emotion, feeling or even sound in some cases. PHOTOGRAPHIC PORTRAITS The subject of skin tone and beauty has been prevalent within the Black community for decades. NXSH decides to depict people with darker skin tone in her images to celebrate the aesthetic, whilst challenging perceptions of that skin tone within parts of the Black community and the media. There only seems to be a select few dark skinned models that have broken the mould and been successful in the mainstream fashion industry. This is an issue that may seem outdated but is still currently playing a part in the way many people perceive beauty today.
FROM THE ATTRACTION SERIES ACRYLIC ON CANVAS 420mm x 594mm. 2015.
MOOR I OIL ON CANVAS 594mm x 841mm. 2015.
NDEBELE WOMAN OIL ON CANVAS 594mm x 841mm. 2015.
UNTITLED V ACRYLIC ON CANVAS 2014.
UNTITLED ACRYLIC ON CANVAS 254mm x 254mm. 2014.
UNTITLED I ACRYLIC ON CANVAS 596.9mm x 800.1mm. 2014.
Olivia Twist recognises that she has seen and experienced peculiar and intriguing things that aren't often acknowledged or explored. Though her experience is individual it is also shared. All too often groups within our society are overlooked. But these groups have profound and thoughtprovoking stories to share. As a visual communicator, Olivia believes it is her duty to reaffirm, explore and celebrate with a familiar audience whilst teaching a new one. She aims to fill the void by uncovering the unusual tales which aren't necessarily popular but are definitely essential. The central themes that run through Olivia’s work are belonging, domesticity and Black British representation. Her Afro-Caribbean heritage influences her visual language very heavily. Her work is always hand drawn, raw and honest. She creates with what is readily available; “Make do with what you have now” was always ringing in her ears as she grew up. No extravagance just black felt tips or biros. She has an affinity to found objects and experimenting with size and texture. Colour is undeniably one of the most important aspects of her work, she uses it to trigger nostalgia or to reinforce her message. Olivia’s inspiration also comes from West African sign painting. Artists like Ephrem Solomon, Kerry James Marshall and Emory Douglas, as well as photos from the second half of the 20th century, which document the ongoing Black British experience. There is never a moment that she puts her mass observation on pause. She is constantly jotting down and trying to understand. Every project is heavily research based.Though Olivia’s work is deeply personal it is intensely relatable. Her aim is to enable the under represented to see themselves in her work whether it be via her illustration or her writing. Olivia encourages the sharing of experiences as it unifies and evokes a sense of pride. Her aim is to convey the notion that difference is an enriching source of diversity. She believes that we should become unapologetic and decide to no longer bury parts of ourselves. No more picking and choosing. It is about hyphenating, embracing and becoming culturally fluid.
THIS IS NOW HOME DIGITAL PRINT ON FABRIANO PAPER 280mm x 280mm. 2014.
MWEN DIGITAL PRINTS ON FABRIANO PAPER 280mm x 280mm. 2014.
I REMEMBER WHEN DIGITAL PRINT ON FABRIANO PAPER 280mm x 280mm. 2014.
THE PALM HOUSE SCREEN PRINT ON PAPER 297mm x 420mm. 2015. www.sumuyyakhader.com
SUMUYYA KHADER Sumuyya Khaderâ€™s current practice examines not only the landscape itself but investigates the idea of meeting points and interactions within a space. Delving further into the idea of place and the creation of an environment, she questions how these points of interaction can be deconstructed and reassembled to create a new environment that we have not yet encountered. Exploring the scale and presence that drawing can have so that it is not instantly recognisable, the work asks to be viewed up close in order to appreciate the marks and tones on the surface of the paper. The final piece produced containes the most detail while also relying more on personal feeling rather than the information received, pushing lines further by abstracting a more traditional view and making the viewer question what it is they see. More recently these landscapes have started to evoke a more social stance and awareness of not only Sumuyyaâ€™s own background as a female artist but the cultural landscape we currently find ourselves in, thus creating a message within the artwork. Although Sumuyya imposes a rule of not erasing marks, she welcomes the idea of transforming and adapting them as the drawing progresses, which gives a sense of freedom to the work as it unfolds.
JUNGLE SCREEN PRINT ON PAPER 297mm x 420mm. 2015.
Willkay is an artist, Graphic Designer and Art Director. He combines contemporary influences with hand drawn illustration techniques, to create distinctly exceptional artwork. Displaying a gift for art from a young age, Willkay later went on to gain a Diploma in Art and Design Foundation at Central Saint Martins and later graduated from London College of Communication with a degree in Design For Print. Willkayâ€™s natural flair for creativity is illustrated in a number of his works which comprises of contemporary modern day art, which reflects his life, environment and character. He possesses a unique eye for detail, often stepping outside of his comfort zone when creating new work. Having worked with a number of leading brands such as Adidas, Converse, Vitamin Water, B-side by Wale and G-Shock, Willkay combines a number of mediums including photography, illustration, and graphic design, crafting them to create pieces that are charming, intricate and unique. With this retrospective, Willkay presents some of his better-known work as a contribution to the world of creativity.
SHUFFLE A DREAM FINE MARKER PENS, PENCIL 420mm x 594mm. 2015.
SHUFFLE A DREAMI
FINE MARKER PENS, PENCIL 420mm x 594mm. 2015.
S H U F F L E A D R E A M II FINE MARKER PENS, PENCIL 420mm x 594mm. 2015.
THE BLACK MAIDEN by KBF
Who am I? Is it my colour ? Hâ€™mm it is said, my colour Is the flag of my nation Oh yes, my true colour is the colour of my clan but who are mine, that peeps through these eyes work with this hands walks the floor Ooh but inside I am (constituted by) words in spirit and life Aaah, I went to the church house to affirm me to certify me to validate me but there was no rest for my soul My children my posterity Unseen and unborn Who will they be? What is their lot? What spirit will they posses what life will they have? Kedar what are my words of inheritance what are my ways and those of my children? My image, what do I take from now to the future? Like the curtains of kedar I hang dark and comely looking in the mirror and in the stream I ask Who am I? On the sand of time On the shore of destiny On the canopy of history I cry who am I?
“DO YOU HAVE A SOUL? THEN YOU’RE READY FOR ART.” -Roos Beijer