I think every creative person on the planet has asked this question. I thought to share this TED talk by Jack Conte with you. Enjoy!
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
For colleagues and blog followers in the UK, the Architects for Social Housing (ASH) collective take up residence in London’s ICA Upper Galleries. ASH are exhibiting their designs and work, including a map of London’s existing estate regenerations, at public open days on Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 August, and they host informal discussions about different aspects of the housing crisis every evening of the week. As an ongoing presence, the group embodies the application of cultural practice within social activism. Established in 2015, ASH is a working collective of architects, urban designers, engineers, surveyors, planners, filmmakers, photographers, web designers, artists, writers and housing campaigners operating with developing ideas under set principles.
With the dramatic increase in economic disparity across the UK, there is a heightened need to find sustainable solutions to the housing ‘crisis’. ASH’s work responds to a lack of support for social housing and the communities they home. First among the principles they work to is the conviction that increasing the housing capacity on existing council estates, rather than redeveloping them as luxury apartments, is a more sustainable solution to London’s housing needs than the demolition of social housing, enabling the continued existence of the communities they house.
The residency runs from August 15th to 20th. For further info please visit the ICA website.
A colleague was kind enough to forward me the attached link on a project featuring the work of artist Neequaye Dreph Dsane. This British-Ghanaian artist is painting huge, beautiful murals of ordinary black women on London’s streets. Please take a look.
Unfortunately, despite the quality of art, I’ve found the subject of painting only black women is making headlines for the wrong reasons. It seems Dreph‘s work has come under scrutiny with claims on social media that the work is racist and unnecessary in a modern society. I disagree entirely with those who feel such work in the public realm is wrong and I would champion other underrepresented groups to do the same, provided it is executed with the aim of creating aesthetically pleasing, therapeutic and social benefits to public spaces . There are many artists painting work which is publicly displayed that does not include people of colour but I wouldn’t claim such work to be racist. However, maybe I should?
Disappointingly, some people remain ignorant and naive regarding the disproportional levels of black female representation in the media and have not questioned the mechanisms that sustain this flaw. The artist’s work appears to address this and balance an issue that undermines the very idea of equality or equal representation in a modern democratised society. He is celebrating his cultural heritage proudly as he should. When we explore mainstream art and media, we should note that the most underrepresented groups of people are black women and the physically disabled. You just have to look at British television to see that the representation is still falling short and its depiction of BMEs remains stereotypical in the main. In modern British society, the depiction of people of colour, their cultures and contributions remain marginalised or even trivialised.
Most art galleries in art hubs in cities such as London and New York are primarily owned or managed by white proprietors. The feeling amongst many groups is they tend to showcase work by white or European artists for predominantly white audiences. Perhaps this perception is wrong but it remains a perception. Yes, there are shows and exhibitions that showcase the work of other demographics and prominent artists of colour but are these isolated cases, where the decisions to exhibit are linked to minimal levels of financial risk for curators, galleries or museums with expected commercial returns? This I guess is a reflection of the sector, its market and interest of those investing in art, which is something I’d like to address later.
Black women on our screens, magazines and billboards may have improved over the last twenty years, just like employment figures, but significant steps towards change must be made. In this day and age, it is disappointing to know that significant players, for example in advertising and media, feel certain ‘looks’ and ‘features’ don’t sell or exhibit the wrong image unless you’ve got the ‘Beyonce or Rihanna look’ which is seen as more palatable. If people in positions of authority are able to reflect society, exhibit a broader church of representation, to celebrate differences and embrace ‘multiculturalism’ we wouldn’t need to go down this road of discussion. Such excellent work, like others around London would be seen for what they are- works of art! However, as it is art so it will also provoke discussion, like, dislike and controversy. If anyone feels voiceless and underrepresented, is it right to ignore it and wrong to challenge it?
Whilst I’ve focused on the wrongs of some who contribute to the status quo, the blame cannot lay solely with them. Disenfranchised groups and communities who do not see a balance of representation must address this by investing in, championing and promoting art that reflects them. Moving forward, if they do not see it, like Dreph, they must support and independently create platforms which allow them to. This includes art on our streets, buildings and anywhere within the public realm, bringing art to the masses. There are some things you will not value if you cannot see. Moreover, there are some things others will not value until they see more of it. In conclusion, this isn’t so much about Dreph’s choice of subject but more a reflection of how damaged our society is and what we must do collectively to fix it. What do you think? I’d be happy to hear views and opinions.
For further information on Neequaye Dreph Dsane please visit http://dreph.co.uk