by Sandra Poulson
Born in 1995 in Lisbon, Portugal, Sandra Poulson is a visual artist who lives and works between London and Luanda. Poulson’s work covers the political, cultural and socio-economic landscape of Angola as a case study for examining the connection between history, oral tradition and global
Focusing on her experience with local Luanda, and its history and knowledge to
investigate and discover how micro political moments reverberate into macro politics. In her creativity, she makes use of “inherited societal memory”, which encapsulates the shared memories of the many wrongs from Angola’s colonial era and the Angolan civil war to take apart contemporary narratives using semiotic and archaeological studies of common objects as figures in political and cultural ongoing transformations.
Between the 13th of May and the 30th of June 2022, Poulsen has begun with the ‘Economy of Dust’ exhibition. She developed these installations during her residency at V.O Curations in central London. The artwork in this exhibition is reflective of the artist’s personal experience of growing up in Luanda, Angola. The exhibition is displayed across two gallery spaces. the artist took the ever-present dust in the city, central to its geographic location, and put it in a gallery to reflect on Luanda’s economic, social and cultural landscape. The works are made in fabric, a material that bears importance in constructing the way our bodies navigate the world, with each element pattern cut and handsewn.
In the capital of Angola – Luanda, the dust is a stable and reliable resource, while at the same time many jobs and daily activities are focused on the effort to erase any traces of it. This brings about a duality of perspective that forms the narrative that Poulsen uses to ponder on how something so seemingly unwanted happens to be an essential part that shapes the local society. Structured around moments of meeting and intersecting, ‘Economy of the Dust’ references the elementary architectural language of Luanda which include objects, environments and circumstances that make up the structure of the city of Luanda.
The works feature a dusty, rustic color scheme, painting an accurate picture of the theme in place and making the overall expression as authentic as possible.
Text by Jojolola Dopamu
by Monster Boys
Subaru Boys and The Power of Teamwork: A masterclass in creative collaboration.
For Osayaba Ize-Iyamu, better known by fans and peers as “Cruel Santino”, making the transition from the calmer brand of Afro and Alternative pop sounds of his 2019 LP – Mandy and The Jungle, to the more vibrant (for the most part), otherworldly and eclectic sounds of his latest LP, and the bedrock of his fictional sea world anime – SUBARU BOYS: final heaven could not have been a light task.
As he displayed on Mandy and The Jungle, the artist formerly known as just “Santi” and his team have a sharp eye for selecting his supporting cast. 2022’s SUBARU BOYS: final heaven, was an assemblage of old faces like Amaarae, and new ones like Jamaican reggae prodigy Koffee.
The creative process for a project as immersive as SUBARU BOYS: final heaven, consists of many layers and contributions - some prominent, some behind the scenes.
Making use of 12 guest appearances and 11 producers (including himself), Cruel Santino managed to lay the auditory bricks for his thoroughly designed “Subaru World”. The project was executively produced by the dynamic pairing of Grammy nominated Quddus King aka GMK and Demilade Akin-Alabi aka Genio Bambino. The duo, also going by the title – “Monster Boys” have admitted that producing, mixing and mastering songs on a heavily conceptual album like this was more fun to work on than challenging because Santino had created an atmosphere for all hands that were selected to be on deck understood the vision. GMK says that what Santi does is send a playlist to the team, so that they all understand the direction it is supposed to and it becomes really fun to do from there.
According to Genio, the collaborators helped make a clearer picture of the Subaru World. He believes that the album took its collaborators out of their respective comfort zones and the result was a sonic exploration that blends into itself quite seamlessly. The songs on the album were arranged into arcs, following the running theme of worldbuilding. Each song is designed to fit into an arc, and with a meticulously selected supporting cast, it makes for more than just a musical project.
As far as the collaborative soundscape of Nigerian and African music is concerned, the Monster Boy duo have very high hopes. GMK is impressed with the fact that more established acts are opting to seek out lesser known producers and acts and believes that the merging of sounds across borders has unlimited potential to take the culture even further. Genio believes that good collaborations would take the sound and the culture far, but the focus should lean toward creating quality sound rather than numbers and acclaim. He is quoted saying
“Money and numbers are important, but the sound comes first”.
The future of the art in Nigeria and Africa is brimming with potential and artists are beginning to realize the power of a well-planned collaborative effort.
Text by Jojolola Dopamu
by Kehinde Wiley
Kehinde Wiley Unveils New Work at The Fondazione Giorgio Cini On the Occasion of The Biennale Di Venezia
Kehinde Wiley: An Archaeology of Silence is hosted at Fondazione Giorgio Cini on the occasion of the 59th Biennale di Venezia. Curated by Christophe Leribault(President of the Musée d’Orsay and Musée de l’Orangerie), Kehinde’s new work continues to explore and expose the brutalities experienced by black people in America and the world. The exhibition project is titled “The Archaeology of Silence” because it seeks to uncover imagery and themes pertaining to black people all over the world that are buried beneath an oppression-induced silence.
The imagery in Kehinde’s art is typically powerful, direct and most importantly, unsettling. His art employs the figures of martyrs and fallen heroes, in a state of mortal or near-mortal repose, all bearing black or brown skin. The Archaeology of Silence contains a collection of new monumental paintings and sculptures, building on his older body of work from 2008 – “DOWN”. Kehinde Wiley Initially drew inspiration from Holbein’s painting The Dead Christ in the Tomb as well as historical paintings and sculptures of fallen warriors and figures in the state of repose. Through this, he created an unsettling but penance-provoking series of motionless lying Black bodies, re-conceptualizing classical contemporary version of epic portraiture, echoing themes of violence, pain, and death, and even ecstasy.
Amidst the grim outlooks of Wiley’s work though, inside the depiction of young Black men and women in positions of vulnerability and mortality, there is a tale of survival and resilience, exposing the beauty that can arise from the dreadful. These poses, exist as beautiful elegies, embodying a central metaphor of youth and resilience and are indicative of perseverance in the midst of cruelty.
“Nowadays, we finally speak about this violence against the Black body that was once silenced. I want to go further than just painting the spectre of police violence and state control over the bodies of young Black and Brown people”
According to Wiley, he was asked by Christophe Leribault to participate in the Venice Biennale to expand upon an exhibition that they had created at the Petit Palais in 2016. Kehinde Wiley is a recipient of the U.S. Department of State’s Medal of Arts, Harvard University’s W.E.B. Du Bois Medal, and France’s distinction of Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters. He also holds a BFA from San Francisco Art Institute, an MFA from Yale University, and honorary doctorates from the Rhode Island School of Design and San Francisco Art Institute. Exhibitions all over the United States and globally have been held by Wiley, and his work is featured in collections in more than 60 public institutions around the world.
Text by Jojolola Dopamu
by Campbell Addy
London-based photographer & filmmaker, Campbell Addy is one of the most sought-after names in this generation. With a repertoire spanning major brands like Time, Rolling Stone Magazine, Stone, Vogue, Financial Times, Dazed, Luncheon Magazine, Double Magazine, Wall Street Journal Magazine, and Garage Magazine, it isn’t difficult to understand why the British-Ghanaian lens manipulator is getting his own monograph published by Prestel. But as with every iconic figure in the world of art, his story is much deeper than the reputation of his star-studded clientele. Embedded in his sometimes-eccentric imagery are personal tales and introspections. His experiences as a queer, Black photographer who abandoned his Jehovah’s Witness home at the young age of sixteen filled him with a wider curiosity about topics like identity, intimacy, and art.
This inaugural monograph, begins with a foreword by British Vogue’s editor-in-chief, Edward Enninful, who discusses the intersection between photography, race, beauty, and representation. This is followed by an array of selected photographs, ranging from major fashion and magazine commissions to candid portraiture. The monograph also features quotes from prominent Black figures including Naomi Campbell and Nadine Ijewere, laced between the striking photographs. The book wraps up with a more profound examination of Campbell’s more individual imagery and influences, paying respects to the heritage of Black photographers through the work of Ajamu and James Barnor.
Addy Campbell is also the founder of Nii Journal, an arts and culture periodical that is published biannually, and also Nii Agency, a modelling and casting agency dedicated to representing and celebrating diversity. Addy represents an unmistakable energy, compassion and authenticity and this project marks a significant milestone in the career of major talent whose impact and importance can only increase with time.
Text by Jojolola Dopamu
1-54 continues its successful collaboration with Christie’s to stage its physical fair in Paris for the second consecutive year.
This special edition happens in line with a series of events that have been planned for 1-54's 10th edition celebration in London and will feature a grand line-up of international galleries across Africa and Europe.
Text by Jojolola Dopamu
by Kenneth Ize
With his stocks skyrocketing through the surprise cameo of legendary model – Naomi Campbell in Paris two years ago, Kenneth Ize takes Paris yet again with his Autumn/Winter2022 presentation.
Kenneth Ize has developed an image for himself using Nigerian Aso-oke textile and his AW 2022 unsurprisingly featured a dazzling suit and skirt piece with brown boots. Spliced with denim, tan corduroy, fringed hems, stripes, checks and argyle, the Autumn/Winter collection was full of rather different pieces. In this season’s installation, Kenneth Ize continued to explore creating silhouettes using Aso-Oke fabric. Finding balance between eccentric and stylish, Kenneth Ize’s ready to wear collection was one to write about.
The striped Aso-oke material, carries an air of authenticity with it as it is handwoven and crafted in Nigeria, was seamlessly converted into suits with skirts as bottoms, one-breasted jackets and mini shift dresses, topped off with knee-length leather boots. In this offering, Ize also presented even more creatively compelling textiles in the form of sheer lace, suede and macramé.
In one offering, Ize creatively utilizes a lot of cardigan material with carefully crafted patterns. In this design, there is a pairing between with lengthy straight jeans and a crocheted cardigan draped with a Cobalt blue chenille jumper. This design also featured some symbolism with a white eye painted with a across the crotch area – an obvious socio-political reference which is open to interpretation, as all art is.
Other designs featured the silhouette of the African map on it, a continued theme in Ize’s outspoken desire to change the outlook of Africa and liberate his own people from the notion that they are third-world or inferior.
For Kenneth Ize, the textiles are just as important as the models. They are designed to catch the eye with a mixture of vibrant and dull colors, and they are also designed to be very comfortable for the wearer, thus making for more ready-to-wear material than the average designer.
Photography by Jebi Labembika
Text by Jojolola Dopamu
by Nicolas Hlobo
Nicolas Hlobo returns to London with “Elizeni Ienkanyiso”
South-African artist Nicolas Hlobo has made a name for himself, creating thematic art through his signature art style that usually makes use of meticulously crafted thin, but defined lines and very distinctive colors. His work ranges from painting on flat surfaces like paper and cloth to symbolism-laden sculptures, installations and performances. His work strongly reflects the themes that are pertinent to his life as a post-apartheid citizen of South Africa and a gay man. He uses elements in his art to depict elements of gender and gender roles and tell tales about history, provoking not just the eyes to action, but the mind as well. The 2002 Fine Arts graduate of the Technikon Witwatersrand institute uses his work to challenge preconceived notions that the world may have formed about his people.