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Paintings, landscapes and spectral figures animate the halls of the Royal Academy of Art with the expressive language of Michael Armitage. Borrowing from the art of East Africa and Europe - from Elimo Njau to Jak Katarikawe, from Tiziano to Paul Gauguin - the Kenyan artist, born in 1984, questions social norms and cultural cliches, religious ideology and cultural politics. To do this, he relies on 15 large works next to a selection of around 35 pieces by six artists from East Africa, working between the ‘60s and the ‘90s, many of who were self-taught, chosen by Armitage himself. Personal memory encounters the harsh realities narrated by the media, creating an imagery characterised by violence and discomfort, but always with hope. Paradise Edict covers the last seven years of Armitage’s work, accompanying the public as it observes landscapes, allegorical figures and a series of paintings inspired by the elections in Kenya in 2017. The bark of Lubugo substitutes the canvas, like an irregular surface. The artist uses, in his painting, this material which has traditionally been found in Uganda from the inner cortex of the “Mutuba” tree, a sort of funeral shroud used in various ceremonies. It represents a sort of emancipation from European traditions. In his works, the dynamics of power and sexuality, as well as the ties between political and religious rhetoric intertwine with a careful observation of human gestures and expression.
Poussin and Dance. An Outright Celebration at the National Gallery
The French painter as you’ve never seen him before - works on loan from around the world reveal the emotional and Dionysian side of the artist, with influences from classical art and inspirations from the Italian Renaissance.