Monday, 9 July 2018

Talisman In The Age Of Difference

Zak Ové, Umbilical Progenitor, 2018

The Stephen Friedman Gallery is currently hosting a very strong show of artworks inspired by Africa and its cultural output. Talisman in the Age of Difference is curated by Yinka Shonibare and features artists as diverse as The Chapman Brothers, Marlene Dumas, Romare Bearden, and Bill Traylor, creating artworks in a diverse variety of materials. 

"A talisman is thought to possess transformative energy as with a lucky charm, fetish, amulet, mascot, totem, idol or juju. The featured artists transform perception and materials into a form of talisman, a manifestation of protest and difference.
The civil rights movement and identity politics are explored by a number of artists here. Others pursue an alternative path in their shared search for originality, spirituality and the sublime... Like Shonibare, all of these artists value art as a talisman: a vehicle for change. At the heart of the exhibition, Shonibare is asking, ‘Can political art truly convey the power of its subject? Can art that is unconventionally beautiful be a form of resistance?’ ‘Talisman in the Age of Difference’ seeks to answer these questions."
- Stephen Friedman Gallery.

Zak Ové, Umbilical Progenitor, 2018

I have long admired Whitfield Lovell's drawn assemblages and was really happy to get the chance to see them first-hand at last in London through this exhibition.

Whitfield Lovell, Kin XXIII (Dance or Die), 2008

Whitfield Lovell, Kin XLIII (C.P.T), 2010

Whitfield Lovell, Kin XXXIV (Deep Blue Sea), 2008

Kudzanai-Violet Hwami, Sam in Mother's Factory, 2017

She Was Afraid of Heights, But She Was Much More Afraid of Never Flying, 2018, a sculpture by Genevieve Gaignard naturally brings to mind the imagery and literature of Maya Angelou's I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.

Deborah Roberts, Baldwin's  Promise, #4, 2018

Deborah Roberts, Present Tense, 2018

Deborah Roberts, Silent Protest, 2018

The work of artist Deborah Roberts was a new discovery for me in this exhibition. These very graphic collages were wonderful, conjuring the spirit of Hannah Höch as they question ideals of beauty in those who look different from yourself, especially black girls.

Marlene Dumas, Alfa, 2004

Romare Bearden, Spring Way, c. 1968  

Again as with Whitfield Lovell, this exhibition gives us a chance to experience the work of African American collage master Romare Bearden first-hand, and a Jacob Lawrence gouache too.

Romare Bearden, Black History, c. 1979

 Romare Bearden, Morning Train To Durham, 1981

 Jacob Lawrence, Builders - Green Hills, 1998

Blue Rose, 2007, Wangechi Mutu's superb textural collage.

Michael Armitage, Giraffe grows a Doum Palm, 2014

Rise and Shine (Her Moment in Time), 2018, another intriguing sculpture by Genevieve Gaignard


  Thomas J Price, Untitled (Icon 5), 2017

 Thomas J Price, Untitled (Icon 1), 2017

Thomas J Price, Untitled (Icon 2), 2017

Zanele Muholi, Yaya Mavundla, Parktown, Johannesburg, 2014

Derrick Adams, Figures in the Urban Landscape13, 2018

Kehinde Wiley, Madame Rimsky-Korsakov, 2018

Abe Odedina, Love Letter, 2018

Hassan Hajjaj, African Boy Sittin', 2013

Sonia Boyce, She Ain't Holding Them  Up, She's Holding On (Some English Rose), 1986

Jeremiah Quarshie, Queens no.2, 2018

Mickalene Thomas, Jet Blue #1, 2018

The exhibition continues across the street in Gallery Two.

The Chapman Brothers, CFC72540310, 2002

The Chapman Brothers, CFC72337192, 2002

Kendell Geers, Talismanik Register XXXV, 2018

Chapman Brothers, CFC76372567, 2002

The Chapman Brothers mischievous interventions questioning globalisation and cultural diversity and appropriation.

I have been an admirer of Abdoulaye Konaté's large, colourful textiles since first encountering them here.

Otobong Nkanga's The Leftovers, 2017 textile hanging.

Hew Locke - Mummy's Little Soldier, 2013

Leonardo Drew, Untitled, 2018

David Hammons, Untitled, 1985

Betty Saar, Liberate, 2015

I really enjoyed Betty Saar's interventions on everyday objects to deliver powerful messages.

We Was Mostly 'Bout Survival (Ironing), 1997

Fantastic art brut from Bill Traylor. Untitled (Woman with umbrella), c. 1939-42

Bill Traylor, Untitled (Figures on House), c. 1939-1942

Zina Saro-Wiwa, Holy Star Boyz, 2018

Irvin Pascal, Self-Portrait as Jean Michel Basquiat, 2017-18
Melvyn Edwards, Alteration, 2002

I really enjoyed this survey of artists who have a link to Africa albeit through birth, ancestral legacy, or appropriation of traditional African artefacts in their own artworks to question Western ideologies. A similar expanded exhibition on a larger scale and venue would be wonderful. Yinka Shonibare and the team at Stephen Friedman have done a great job here.

Portia Zvavahera, Zvakandivinga Muchadenga (Air Spirit Bird), 2017

Talisman In The Age Of Difference
until 21st July
Stephen Friedman Gallery
25-28 Old Burlington Street