15 | 07 – 29 | 10 | 2023
Thursday, July 13, 2023
Friday, July 14, 2023
Michael Armitage is considered one of the most important painters of the present-day. He has gained recognition for his large-scale paintings that depict figures in lyrical, dreamlike landscapes. In them, paint is applied in several layers, wiped away, and reworked. Influences from European art, such as that of Francisco de Goya or the Fauves, as well as East African traditions can be found in these pale compositions. Paul Gauguin is for Armitage an “unavoidable touchstone.” What does it mean when people exoticize themselves? Armitage pays attention to billboards, local rituals, and political rallies as well as vegetation and animal life. His images always manifest a disturbing ambiguity, all the while providing commentaries on political events and reminders of existing inequality and violence.
A special feature of Armitage’s works is the painting support. He uses bark as a painting surface. In a time-honored technique, the bark of the Ugandan fig tree is stripped and then burned and smoothed. During the process, the hard organic material is transformed into a soft, malleable material, which is called “Lubugo”. Armitage sews the cloths together into remarkable picture surfaces. The seams remain visible, as do small openings and indentations.
Michael Armitage (b. 1984 Nairobi) lives in Nairobi, London, and Indonesia. In 2020 he founded the Nairobi Contemporary Art Institute (NCAI)—a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide space for art in Nairobi and, in particular, to promote and support contemporary art in East Africa. Armitage has had solo exhibitions at MoMA in New York, the Haus der Kunst in Munich, the Royal Academy of Art in London, and the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo in Turin, the Kunsthalle Basel and at White Cube Bermondsey. Group shows have taken him to the 2019 Venice Biennale, the 2015 Lyon Biennale, and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh.