Nelson Makamo’s to start with solo exhibition with Increase Art ran from July 22 – August 25 in London’s Fitzrovia. In this article, our Curator Phin Jennings displays on the exhibit.
By Phin Jennings | 14 Dec 2022
“I see them, and they see me so I paint them.” It is early June, the beginning of wintertime in Johannesburg, and I am with Nelson Makamo in his studio. Laid out on the ground in front of us are close to 30 paintings and drawings, a new human body of operate for his initial London solo exhibition in extra than 5 yrs. He is speaking about the ingredient of exchange in his function: “and they see me.”
The way that Makamo’s figures seem out at the viewer has become a recognisable attribute of his drawings and paintings. Seeking at them, I can sense my gaze remaining achieved by a subject that seems again at me. The people today he draws and paints – ordinarily youthful residents of African villages – are engaged in a reciprocal partnership with the viewer when you see an artwork by Makamo, there is a sensation that you are becoming seen much too. Simply because of this, they have to have a lot more care and awareness than most portraits do.
At the exhibition’s opening reception, some months immediately after I to start with encountered the artworks in Makamo’s studio, I overheard anyone conversing about their possess practical experience of this emotion: “Nelson’s function just helps make you end.”
This high-quality of the artist’s do the job is no accident. In owning them glance back at the viewer, Makamo offers his subjects the agency that they are far too generally denied. Outdoors of the artist’s function, African youngsters are frequently depicted as getting destitute and hopeless, a 1-dimensional and voyeuristic narrative that dehumanises them by using away their capacity to determine on their own. There is a skewed harmony of electricity, and no ingredient of trade they are appeared at by the entire world, but robbed of the means to return its gaze. Makamo redresses this equilibrium by possessing his topics meet the eye of the viewer, providing them again their personalities.
In this exhibition, our London audience was exposed to the sheer assortment of these personalities. The 30 a few will work on display depicted curiosity, defiance, melancholy, craving, generosity, pleasure, mischievousness and so a lot much more. To me, Makamo’s perform is all about changing perceptions. My hope for this exhibition, the artist’s re-introduction to the Uk, is that guests left with their perceptions of Africa altered, the tired trope of hopelessness changed with some of Makamo’s undiluted expressions of temperament.