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Spotlight

Black History Month: Must-see exhibitions

 

Lubaina Himid, Tate Modern, until 3rd July 2022

2017 Turner Prize winner Lubaina Himid was one of the first artists involved in the UK's Black Art movement in the 1980s and continues to create activist art. This autumn, Tate Modern will present Himid’s largest solo exhibition to date, incorporating new paintings and significant highlights from across her remarkable career. Taking inspiration from the artist’s interest in opera and her training in theatre design, the show will unfold across a sequence of scenes which put the visitor centre-stage.

Through a series of questions placed throughout the exhibition, Himid asks us to consider how the built environment, history, personal relationships and conflict shape the lives we lead. Presenting over 50 works that bring together painting, everyday objects, poetic texts and sound, the exhibition will offer a rare chance to experience the breadth of Himid’s influential career. 

Lubaina Himid, Ball on Shipboard, 2018, Rennie Collection, Vancouver, © Lubaina Himid

Tunji Adeniyi-Jones: Astral Reflections, Charleston until 13th March 2022

The modernist home and studio of painters Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, Charleston, is to announce the inaugural UK solo exhibition and museum display of work by the British, Brooklyn-based artist Tunji Adeniyi-Jones. Astral Reflections comprises entirely new works including nine works on paper, three large format monotypes and an aquatint print, all travelling to Charleston from the artist’s studio in Brooklyn, New York. According to the artist Astral Reflections ‘speaks to the physical and emotional fragments that we gather and leave behind through continued travel and transition. I am interested in how the transformative nature of the Black experience is nourished by travel, movement and cultural hybridity.’

Tunji Adeniyi-Jones, 'Astral Reflections' 2021. Six plate aquatint etching with soft group and spit bite on white Somerset Satin paper. Copyright Tunji Adeniyi-Jones; courtesy

Rita Keegan: Somewhere Between There and Here until, South London Gallery, until 28th November 2021

Rita Keegan was hugely influential in the Black Arts Movement of the 1980s, creating and maintaining an extensive archive of newsletters, leaflets and exhibition literature from the Black British arts scene that she continues to use as inspiration for new works. Her radical approach to using materials and her exploration of Black identity merge in digital animation, textiles, painting and copy art combined with experimental media such as scents and smells. Her work is very personal to her own experience and she uses countless images from her childhood, plus powerful self-portraits.

Rita Keegan, Untitled, 1986, © Rita Keegan

Summer Exhibition 2021, Royal Academy, until 2nd January 2022

Coordinated by British Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare, Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition 2021 champions artists from all backgrounds and cultures, especially those who may have been marginalised in the past. The 253rd Summer Exhibition at Royal Academy is coordinated by Yinka Shonibare. This year, the show explores the theme of ‘Reclaiming Magic’ to celebrate the joy of creating art. Shonibare explains, ‘This exhibition seeks a return to the visceral aspects and the sheer joy of art making. It will celebrate the transformative powers of the magical in art and transcend the Western canon which formed the foundations of the Royal Academy, seeking to restore value to marginalised practices as equally valid forms of enlightenment.’

An Ode to Afrosurrealism, Horniman Museum & Gardens, until 7th November

An Ode to Afrosurrealism, a new photographic art exhibition (opening 17 October) at the Horniman Museum and Gardens in south London, explores contemporary relationships with spiritualism, reality and surrealism, through a Black British lens. The 25-strong photo series is the first collaboration between artist photographers Hamed Maiye and Adama Jalloh, bringing together their interests in surrealism, mythology, identity and symbolism. The exhibition highlights in particular the spiritual bond between twins and the meaning of the number 2 – images of twins are used throughout the series to show the mirroring of reality and surrealism, symbolising union and division. An Ode to Afrosurrealism also aims to inspire younger artists to consider different ways of creating art by looking outside the usual canon of spiritual iconography.

Photo credit: Adama Jalloh & Hamed Maiye 

Kudzanai-Violet Hwami: When You Need Letters for Your Skin, Victoria Miro Gallery, until 6th November 2021

Based in the UK, Kudzanai-Violet Hwami was born in Gutu, Zimbabwe and lived in South Africa from the ages of nine to seventeen. Her paintings combine visual fragments from a myriad of sources, such as online and archival images, and personal photographs, which collapse past and present. Powerful nudes are a point of departure and in this exhibition of new works, Hwami’s first with the gallery, the artist considers existence in a time and space – as much digital as physical – where people are investigating their sexual, spiritual and political identity. 

Collage, in which the artist uses sources including family photographs, online archival images and vintage pornographic photographs, is a starting point. Hwami digitally edits and layers her chosen elements with further motifs to build compositions that, freeing the figure from the often-prescribed meanings and assumptions of their original context, create new narratives.

Kedisha Coakley, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, until 31st October

Yorkshire Sculpture Park is presenting the first solo exhibition of work by Kedisha Coakley who reconsiders objects and cultural symbols in relation to history, race and culture. Born in London in 1982, Coakley completed her BA in Fine Art at Sheffield Hallam University in 2020. Her work inspires important and timely dialogues and encourages viewers to reconsider social and historical narratives bound up with objects of different cultures.

This new display is Coakley’s first public gallery exhibition and is a space for her to increase the ambition of her ideas and reconsider conventions of curatorial practice. By exploring ideas of home, memory, class, status and cultural affiliations, Coakley attempts to create inclusive and recognisable spaces within the gallery setting, which she describes as a familiar place of ownership and truth, transparency, opacity, hypervisibility and belonging for all.

Kedisha Coakley, Negritude No. 9 , 2017-2020

Kedisha Coakley, Ritual Series, 2019-2020

James Barnor, Accra/London – A Retrospective, Serpentine North Gallery, until October 24th 2021 

James Barnor’s career as studio portraitist, photojournalist and Black lifestyle photographer spans six decades, recording major social and political changes in Accra and London. His pioneering, resolutely modern work has influenced generations of photographers in Africa and around the world. 

Central to Barnor’s work is the intimate documentation of African and Afro-diasporic lives across time and space. Whether making family snapshots, commissioned portraits or commercial assignments, Barnor approaches the photographic process as a collaborative venture, a conversation wit the sitter, and his images are  testament to a lifetime of encounters. 

Sister holding Brother, Accra Courtesy Galerie Clémentine de la Féronnière

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