This exhibition will showcase 15 of Armitage’s works alongside 35 works by East African artists who have influenced his development, including paintings by Kenyan painter Meek Gichugu. Armitage first saw one of Gichugu’s works at a friend’s house when he was nine years old. Speaking to Frieze magazine last year, he said the painting, which depicts a naked woman entangled in an erotic act with a zebra, ‘acted almost like a trauma to my imagination’.
Michael Armitage, The Chicken Thief, 2019.Courtesy of the Artist and White Cube © Michael Armitage. Photo: © White Cube (Theo Christelis).
Two themed sections will bookend this exploration into Armitage’s influences. The first series of paintings are inspired by Kenya’s 2017 national election. In the run-up, Armitage joined a local TV crew, who were filming a rally in Nairobi. His painting The Fourth Estate (2017), depicts the crowds gathering below a sprawling tree. A second work in this section, The Chicken Thief (2019), builds on his interest in power dynamics and social issues.
The final section, titled Paradise Edict, will contain a series of paintings exploring the complex and layered narratives of Africa’s mythologies and histories. Ghostly forms and hybrid figures, part human, part animal, haunt shimmering landscapes. In an innovative nod to his African roots, Armitage paints on lubugo, a Ugandan material made of bark cloth, which was traditionally used for burial shrouds. By stretching and priming this material, Armitage has transformed it into a canvas.
This exhibition will fill the Royal Academy’s Sackler Galleries with images that promise to linger in the viewer's mind. It will provide a tour de force of significant, but little-known Kenyan artists, while introducing audiences to Armitage's recent works. Fans of contemporary painting will not be disappointed.
|What||Michael Armitage: Paradise Edict exhibition, Royal Academy|
|Where||Royal Academy, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, W1J 0BD | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Green Park (underground)|
22 May 21 – 19 Sep 21, 12:00 AM
|Website||Click here for more information|