I start today in a reflective mood with a very heavy heart, knowing fellow artist Jon Daniel, who I featured on the page and my blog, has passed away. I didn’t know Jon very well, and met him by chance but his positively warm, personable and genuine energy was clear to see, not to mention his talent and appreciation of the arts. It is a sad loss but he will no doubt be remembered and appreciated, particularly by all who were fortunate to meet him.
His passing also reinforces something we all know and need to remember- life is short and precious so pursue your dreams, create lasting memories and live it well! Life certainly is for living and not just surviving. Pursue your dreams and don’t put ambitions on hold. You’ve been given imagination for a reason so combine it with action and activity. Wishing you all a happy, healthy and enjoyable weekend. Make it count!
The start of another month which will see me being creative and producing new work. October is already full of disturbing news, from further indications of ethnic cleansing to people being deprived the right to vote. A sign of the times and indicator of necessary change? My thoughts extend to those effected by last night’s Vegas shootings, as well of those still quietly suffering the aftermath of hurricanes and earthquakes, away from the eyes of this week’s media. This year’s tragedies only show the importance of the relationships, lifestyles and values that make our lives; they are things we too often take for granted. Start your week as you mean to go on, enjoying it to the maximum, celebrating it with those who unquestionably count and capitalising on the opportunities life provides. Life is a one time offer so use it well!
This week I’m taking advantage of the good weather in London and visiting a number of galleries in Shoreditch. Yesterday was an enjoyable day, with two shows at the Stolen Space Gallery as the highlight. The first entitled ‘Indelible Elegance’ is the new solo show from graffiti pop artist Vinnie Nylon and runs until Sept 24th. Having been on the scene for 32 years Vinnie Nylon has gained the respect of street artists old and new. In this new solo show, we bring together Vinnie’s past, present and future to show the heritage in his career as both a graffiti writer and contemporary painter that has gained the respect of UK urban artists; most notably internationally acclaimed artist Banksy once donated an artwork to fund his first London show in 2012.
I was particularly attracted to the wonderful work of German artist duo Hera and Akut, known as Herakut. ‘Sad But Happy’ is a series of work illustrating a very distinctive and dark style. Depicting children and animals with large emotive eyes, they draw the viewer in to their mysteriously eerie world, making them contemplate the statements scribbled across the canvas and their relationship with the characters in the works.
Their dark use of colour contrasts with the bright and fast use of movement and brushwork. Their style welcomes a kind of imperfect perfection, the brushstrokes seeming erratic and fluid but also so beautifully placed. Their joint creative art process is about storytelling, the creation of imaginary worlds and inspiring their figures with individual characters. Hera sets the characters’ form and proportions, whilst Akut paints the photorealistic elements. This show runs until October 1st.
Unfortunately it seems the summer is coming to an end but there are plenty of art exhibitions and events to entertain and inspire us as the nights get longer. There are a few interesting shows in both London and New York this week I know of so, if you’re fortunate to be in either or both locations over the coming weeks check them out! The two that come to mind are the following:
The Republic of Brexitopia at London’s Espacio Gallery
The Republic of Brexitopia is an imaginary country of the near future. Using a mix of participative, performative and provocative strategies the 27 participating artists address not just Brexitopia’s political and economic trajectory, but also the relationship between its citizens, the lure of exceptionalism, and the narrow line between optimism and delusion, utopia and dystopia.
The tone of the artworks varies from the passionate to cool observation, from the committed to wry humour. Some responses are based on personal experience of the artists – a shaken sense of belonging and the feeling of being turned into “the other”. Other responses test the boundaries of patriotism, truth and historical remembrance. The participative nature of many of the works invites the visitor to reflect on the idea of human agency. They suggest that we don’t have to resign ourselves to the inevitability of this or that future, but that we can choose to be active agents in shaping the future we desire. The show opens Thursday 7th For further information please the Espacio gallery
Barbara Chase-Riboud Malcolm X: Complete at Michael Rosenfeld Gallery New York
This exhibition is celebrating the artist’s now complete series of monumental bronze and fiber sculptures that the artist has created over the last half-century in honour of the slain human rights leader. The exhibition, her second large-scale solo show at New York’s Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, will be accompanied by a fully illustrated colour catalogue featuring a recent interview with the artist by Carlos Basualdo, the Keith L. and Katherine Sachs Curator of Contemporary Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The show opens on September 9th
Last week I was in London’s Shoreditch district admiring the various works of art on public display. Until this weekend, the Espacio Gallery plays host to the Ajags Gallery’s new exhibition entitled ‘Art Will Find A Way.’ The exhibition is a group show, comprising of the distinct and individual works of four artists – Mayowa Ajagunna (of the Ajags Gallery), Saman Gedara, Mary Osinibi and Princess Idowu – all connected by a shared interest in the wildly imaginative nature of artistic expressions (but diverse in their creativity) that includes painting, photography, sculpture, installation and mixed media.
‘Art Will Find A Way‘ is a concept that presents the idea of open-mindedness, optimism, positivity and being able to resolve or deal with whatever situation you find yourself in. The art is inspirational, thought provoking and invites you to enjoy the directness of the work. Without doubt there are paintings some may need sensitivity in handling but this selection of work only encourages you to look at the subject matters from a wider perspective, as an active participant and not just a passive observer. With this in mind, I was particularly keen to ask the gallery’s founder Mayowa Ajagunna about his work and the show.
Q- How did you get into painting?
I didn’t get into painting. Painting was already a part of me and all I did was to show that side of me to the world.
Q-Your works appear to carry a personal, intense and intimate connection with the viewer. What motivates you to paint?
Legacy – the idea of leaving something timeless behind appeals to me a lot. Communication – its a medium I use communicate, so that I can be very well understood. Expression – as cliche as this might sound, painting when you’re angry, down, sad, stressed or worried actually elevates a problem from ones mind.
Q- How did the theme of “Art will find a way’ come about?
“Art Will Find A Way” is a quote I learnt from a friend I studied Art A levels with in college almost 15 years ago. Today I still very much believe in it because to me it reflects on everyday life struggles and having a strong mindset, discipline, focus and determination to see yourself through difficult situations.
Q-Can you tell us more about the Ajag Gallery?
Correction “Ajags Gallery” like the name says ‘Ajags Gallery’ is for all of ‘Ajags’ Artworks lol. Just like a Salvador Dali Gallery or a Picasso Gallery.
I’m not your typical high street gallery that seeks to rob artists for a 50% commission on artworks. I am an independent artist that exhibits solo. For the first time I am having a group show with other artist and its called “Art Will Find A Way.”
Q-When and where will we see the next Ajags Gallery?
Next year summer most likely, this is the first of its kind that we intend to do every year. Where exactly, well somewhere around Brick Lane, so long as it remains the contemporary art hub of London. Nigeria, Africa is also a strong possibility.
I wish Mayowa and his colleagues the very best with the show. I encourage you to see this if you are in London over the next week. For further information please visit the http://www.ajagsgallery.com