‘Pictures at an African Exhibition’ at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Illustration by Nate Harris
Illustration by Nate Harris

Wishing you all a great weekend ahead. I hope it’s both a relaxing and enjoyable one! For those in or planning a trip to Philadelphia next weekend, please visit the Museum of Art. I’m happy to announce my art will once again be exhibited and accompany a one-night performance by Darryl Yokley’s Sound Reformation, as part of the Pictures at an African Exhibition promotion. This event forms part of the Museum’s successful Friday Nights calendar. Performances on Friday 16thNovember are at 5.45 and 7.15pm in the Great Stair Hall. Please visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art for further information. For further info on Darryl, the album and artwork please visit darrylyokley.com Have a great day!

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African and Diaporan Voices on African Architecture 

During the UK Black History month of October, I’m privileged once again to introduce another guest blog by fellow creative Livingstone Mukusa on his current project celebrating African architects and architecture.

People, locale, environment. These components of a landscape are interrelated, and in the hands of a sensitive practitioner, are approached collectively when considering design intervention. In Sub Saharan Africa, however, this is the exception, rather than the rule.

Colonialism introduced to Sub Saharan Africa new means of construction and building aesthetics. Dominated by industrialized, mass produced materials, this new architectural language spread, permeating rapidly through previously distinct architectural landscapes to creating a region replete with architectural expressions reduced to basic physical attributes that are divorced from their environments, and social meaning of those who inhabit them.

Traditionally, African architecture, much like its art, has always been a verb rather than a noun. It was a language of ritual rather than objectification, a language of climactic response, a language of resource availability.

Patterns, tessellations, fractal designs, and numerous other elements were generally not for the embellishment and decoration that ordinarily meets today’s eye, but carried with them specific meaning and purpose. While the Western tradition of compartmentalized knowledge, combined with the modernist concept of the exploration of each medium in isolation, led to a virtually complete separation of art and architecture. The integration of art or craft and architecture, on the other hand, was and remains an essential part indigenous African cultures— a result of the experience of unity between art and life.

Today, architecture throughout Sub Saharan Africa, and its Diaspora is more of a testament to expressions and materiality borrowed from elsewhere. Occasionally, a nod or two is given to the locality and culture, forms and techniques that speak of the place and the people. Where does this place the idea of an African Architecture? In our attempts to frame, within a modern day context, what African architecture is, how can we bridge the huge chasm of a dichotomy between African architecture of old and new African architectural expressions? What frames African architecture? Should it even be framed?

Sub-Saharan Africa is incredibly diverse in landscape, climate zones, ethnicities, cultures, and economies. And the answers to these questions are as complex, contradictory even, as this diversity. But these are questions worth examining. To this end, I am seeking an assortment of UK and Europe based architects, artists, activists and scholars to lend their thoughts for an upcoming publication.

Interested parties please contact the author.

Livingstone Mukasa

Livingstone Mukasa, founder of Afritecture, a blog focused on the contextual engagement, and exploration of the African vernacular in modern architecture. He can be reached with Twitter: @livmuk, or email: mukasa@yahoo.com

Art Will Find A Way- The Latest Exhibition from the Ajags Gallery

David Emmanuel Noel, David Emmanuel Noel interviews, Mayowa Ajagunna, Ajags GalleryLast 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.

Mayowa Ajagunna

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

Pictures at an African Art Exhibition – Collaboration with Darryl Yokley

Hoping you all have an enjoyable and memorable weekend. Please see attached the first video promoting ‘Pictures at an African Art Exhibition’ – my enjoyable collaboration with the very talented Darryl Yokley and his band Sound Reformation. This is their second album which will be released later this year. The video features work related to, inspired by and created for the album and associated events. Stay tuned for further information. Have a good day!

A Virtual Art Exhibition by David Emmanuel Noel

Hello all, hoping you’re having a good week so far and making the most of what life and time has to offer? I’d like to share a recent presentation, courtesy of Artistsinfo/ Global artist guide. A busy period for me but one that will result in lots of interesting posts on collaborations and featured guest artists. Will update and share further news very shortly. Until then, look after yourself and those close to you!

Soul of A Nation- Celebrating African American Artists Contribution to Art and History

Soul of a Nation shines a bright light on the vital contribution of black artists to a dramatic period in American art and history.

The show opens in 1963 at the height of the Civil Rights movement and its dreams of integration. In its wake emerged more militant calls for Black Power: a rallying cry for African American pride, autonomy and solidarity, drawing inspiration from newly independent African nations.

Artists responded to these times by provoking, confronting, and confounding expectations. Their momentum makes for an electrifying visual journey. Vibrant paintings, powerful murals, collage, photography, revolutionary clothing designs and sculptures made with Black hair, melted records, and tights – the variety of artworks reflects the many viewpoints of artists and collectives at work during these explosive times.

Some engage with legendary figures from the period, with paintings in homage to political leaders Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Angela Davis, musician John Coltrane and sporting hero Jack Johnson. Muhammad Ali is here in Andy Warhol’s famous painting. An original Sugar Shack painting by Ernie Barnes – known as a Marvin Gaye album cover – leaves the US for the first time.

Spanning the emergence of Black feminism, debates over the possibility of a unique Black aesthetic in photography, and including activist posters as well as purely abstract works, the exhibition asks how the concept of Black Art was promoted, contested and sometimes flatly rejected by artists across the United States.

With most of the 150 artworks on display in the UK for the first time, the exhibition introduces more than 50 exceptional American artists, including influential figures Romare Bearden, Norman Lewis, Lorraine O’Grady and Betye Saar, among numerous others. This landmark exhibition is a rare opportunity to see era-defining artworks that changed the face of art in America.

SOUL OF A NATION: ART IN THE AGE OF BLACK POWER

Soul of A Nation- Art in the Age of Black Power runs at the Tate Modern from 1st July to 22nd October. For  further information please visit  the Tate’s website