Nelson Makamo’s to start with solo exhibition with Increase Art ran from July 22 – August 25 in London’s Fitzrovia. Below, our Curator Phin Jennings demonstrates on the display.
By Phin Jennings | 14 Dec 2022
“I see them, and they see me so I paint them.” It is early June, the commencing of wintertime in Johannesburg, and I am with Nelson Makamo in his studio. Laid out on the flooring in entrance of us are close to 30 paintings and drawings, a new physique of do the job for his to start with London solo exhibition in extra than 5 yrs. He is talking about the element of trade in his do the job: “and they see me.”
The way that Makamo’s people glance out at the viewer has develop into a recognisable attribute of his drawings and paintings. On the lookout at them, I can truly feel my gaze becoming met by a subject matter that appears again at me. The persons he attracts and paints – normally younger people of African villages – are engaged in a reciprocal relationship with the viewer when you see an artwork by Makamo, there is a emotion that you are becoming seen way too. Simply because of this, they call for a lot more care and consideration than most portraits do.
At the exhibition’s opening reception, some months right after I 1st encountered the artworks in Makamo’s studio, I overheard someone conversing about their very own expertise of this emotion: “Nelson’s operate just tends to make you end.”
This excellent of the artist’s work is no incident. In getting them appear back again at the viewer, Makamo gives his topics the agency that they are way too generally denied. Exterior of the artist’s do the job, African youngsters are normally depicted as staying destitute and hopeless, a just one-dimensional and voyeuristic narrative that dehumanises them by using away their means to determine by themselves. There is a skewed equilibrium of electricity, and no factor of trade they are appeared at by the environment, but robbed of the capability to return its gaze. Makamo redresses this equilibrium by having his subjects meet up with the eye of the viewer, offering them again their personalities.
In this exhibition, our London audience was uncovered to the sheer selection of these personalities. The 30 3 works on show depicted curiosity, defiance, melancholy, yearning, generosity, pleasure, mischievousness and so a great deal extra. To me, Makamo’s operate is all about changing perceptions. My hope for this exhibition, the artist’s re-introduction to the United kingdom, is that visitors left with their perceptions of Africa altered, the exhausted trope of hopelessness changed with some of Makamo’s undiluted expressions of personality.