Tag Archives: African Art

LIZETTE CHIRRIME in OkayAfrica

18 May

Mozambique

Spotlight

Spotlight: Mozambican Lizette Chirrime On Stumbling Into Artistry

Zee Ngema

Mozambican artist Lizette Chirrime

Photo courtesy of the artist 

Chirrime’s latest exhibition, Rituals for Soul Search embodies the artist’s desire to bring audience members closer to nature, the Universe, and their souls.

In our ‘Spotlight‘ series, we highlight the work of photographers, visual artists, multimedia artists, and more who are producing vibrant, original work.

In our latest piece, we spotlight Mozambican textile artistLizette ChirrimeThe self-taught multidisciplinary artist channels her trauma and longing to be whole through her artwork. “These abstract forms evoke the human body and my identity-responsive practice where I refashion my self-image and transcend a painful upbringing that left me shattered and broken. I literally ‘re-stitched’ myself together. These liberated ‘souls’ are depicted ‘dancing’ on the canvas, bringing to mind, well-dressed African women celebrating”, Chirrime says in her own words. The artist uses her creations to communicate the beauty in simplicity, and the divinity of being African.

We spoke with the Chirrime about accidentally finding her medium of choice, using color to express emotions, and focusing your energy on being awesome.

Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Describe your background as an artist and the journey you’ve taken to get it to where it is today.

When I started, I had no idea that I was an artist. I loved to create beautiful environments wherever I went, and when people noticed, they began giving me that title. I was using techniques that deviated from what was common at the time, particularly working with recycled materials, which I think situated me as a creative within my communities.

What are the central themes in your work?

Womanhood, Mother Earth, love, awesomeness, and spirituality.

How did you decide on using textiles to express your art?

It all started when I began working with hessian fabric, mainly, deciding to change the way it was treated in many houses. I gave it more life and a better look, and when the healing was done, I moved on to colorful fabrics in search of joy and life.

In the early 2000s, I began working with scrap materials, having been compelled to create a doll from textiles one evening. I fell in love with the medium and haven’t stopped creating since, though the way in which I utilize textiles continues to evolve.

Can you talk about your use of colors and symbolism in your art?

I use the colors I do — shades of red, blue, and green — because they remind me of beauty. They’re the vehicles I use to both express my feelings and describe certain narratives behind my expression. Symbolically, I look to nature for inspiration and translate the environment around me into symbols within my pieces. Looking to nature helps to find one’s place within the universe, and I want to help people see the value in slowness and simplicity. I hope that my work helps people appreciate how miraculous our planet is and inspires them to heal the earth from destruction.

How has the pandemic affected you creatively?

I relocated to Mozambique during the pandemic, after living in South Africa for many years, and have felt an incredible shift in my capacity to be present. Being removed from a city and with a slower pace of life, I’ve been able to reconnect with myself and have a direct conversation with my spirit and soul, which directly feeds into my work and the current ideas which I’m exploring.

Luckily, I didn’t feel very affected by the pandemic because I’ve had a few sponsors and continued to sell my artwork through that time. Though I didn’t sell as much as I did prior, I still managed to pay my bills, eat and create — I’m thankful to have met my needs as an artist.

Image courtesy of the artist

African Single Mother, 2021

Available Artwork by LIZETTE CHIRRIME

LIZETTE CHIRRIME reviewed in The Washington Post

6 May

Lizette Chirrime

Review by Mark Jenkins

Today at 6:00 a.m. EDT

“Somewhere on Earth” by Lizette Chirrime. (Lizette Chirrime and Morton Fine Art)

Mozambican artist Lizette Chirrime makes art by stitching together scraps of secondhand fabric and other found materials. Although this sort of patchwork is usually considered humble, Chirrime’s themes are heroic and even cosmic. Among the pieces in her Morton Fine Art show, “Rituals for Souls Search,” is “Somewhere on Earth,” in which textile strips coalesce into a sort of globe. Most of the narrow ribbons flow from one side of the tapestry to the other, but the ones that approach the circle bend into an orbit as if warped by a black hole’s pull.

More typical of Chirrime’s compositions are those that center on human figures, in two cases identified as single mothers. One of the solitary matriarchs is positioned above a photo of a woman’s face and outlined in multiple series of roughly parallel red stitches. Equally expressive is “The Boy Who Stopped the Snake,” in which the child who clutches a brown serpent is a silhouette of hot-colored tatters against a backdrop of blues and greens.

The poses in these tableaux are meant to be celebratory, and reflect the artist’s overcoming her traumatic childhood. “I literally ‘restitched’ myself together,” explains her statement. The use of castoff materials is an ecological statement and the imagery is often spiritual, but the essence of Chirrime’s art is autobiographical.

Lizette Chirrime: Rituals for Souls Search Through May 17 at Morton Fine Art, 52 O St. NW, No. 302. Open by appointment.

Available Artwork by LIZETTE CHIRRIME

Mozambican textile artist LIZETTE CHIRRIME speaks to her inspiration and art practice

2 May

Video credit: Jarrett Hendrix

Working primarily with recycled materials, Lizette Chirrime’s practice has a marked foundation in personal and traditional spirituality. Chirrime describes her creative process as “a prayer to the Universe”–an intention to heal the earth from overconsumption, pollution and greed. Sourcing scrap materials from her environment and immediate communities, Chirrime uses fabric, burlap, rope, paint, beads, leather and more to produce dynamic collages that speak to African womanhood, and more broadly, the human condition. Finding inspiration in the natural world–the vastness of the ocean, the hues of the sunrise, the evolution of a storm–Chirrime’s pieces are layered with a poetic consideration for what she calls “the essence of life.”

Her solo exhibition “Rituals for Soul Search” is on view at Morton Fine Art in Washington, DC by appointment through May 22, 2022.

Visit http://www.mortonfineart.com to view available artwork by LIZETTE CHIRRIME.

LIZETTE CHIRRIME | Rituals for Soul Search | in ArtPlugged

13 Apr

Lizette Chirrime: Rituals for Soul Search

Exhibitions

Lizette Chirrime: Rituals for Soul Search
April 23 to May 22, 2022
Morton Fine Art
52 O Street NW #302
Washington, DC

Morton Fine Art (52 O Street NW #302 Washington, DC) is pleased to present Rituals for Soul Search, a solo exhibition of multimedia textile works by Mozambican artist, Lizette Chirrime; on view from April 23 to May 22, 2022. Presenting an array of collaged pieces that foreground her relationship to self and home, this body of work blends abstract, symbolic and figurative imagery as a means to analyze the largely unseen forces that guide and determine our realities.

Lizette Chirrime
Portrait of the artist
Courtesy of the artist and Morton Fine Art

Working primarily with recycled materials, Lizette Chirrime’s practice has a marked foundation in personal and traditional spirituality. Chirrime describes her creative process as “a prayer to the Universe”–an intention to heal the earth from overconsumption, pollution and greed. Sourcing scrap materials from her environment and immediate communities, Chirrime uses fabric, burlap, rope, paint, beads, leather and more to produce dynamic collages that speak to African womanhood, and more broadly, the human condition.

Lizette Chirrime– The Boy Who Stopped the Snake, 2014
Fabric collage 58 x 50″
Courtesy of the artist and Morton Fine Art

Finding inspiration in the natural world–the vastness of the ocean, the hues of the sunrise, the evolution of a storm–Chirrime’s pieces are layered with a poetic consideration for what she calls “the essence of life.”

Foregrounding her relationship to heritage and presence, Chirrime uses shades of amber, blue and red to produce works that evoke sentiments of love, loss, dissolution and connection. In the piece titled African Single Mother, a woman’s form stitched from black cloth stands alone, as an aged portrait of a maternal figure watches closely in the background.

Lizette Chirrime
As Minhas Percorridas, 2022 37 x 59.5″
Fabric and mixed media stitched on canvasCourtesy of the artist and Morton Fine Art

Speaking to ancestry and guidance, the single mother’s aloneness is made complicated by the ephemeral eye of a woman who has been here before. In another piece, The Boy Who Stopped the Snake, a multicolored masculine figure, constructed from hundreds of pieces of African fabric, holds a colossal serpent stitched of patterned brown cloth–the boy is dynamic, having achieved mastery over that which would have otherwise caused destruction.

Lizette Chirrime
African Single Mother, 2021
Fabric collage and machine sewing 44 x 34.50″
Courtesy of the artist and Morton Fine Art

In newer works, Chirrime foregrounds stitching techniques as a means to create complex landscapes and figurative imagery. Primarily selecting strips of fabric in shades of blue and red, the resultant pieces evoke sentiments of territorial exploration, as the colors of the lived environment are saturated and made alive.

In a piece titled As Minhas Percorridas–which translates to My Travels–Chirrime creates a layered and multi-directional mosaic of her life’s journey, situating the home as a space of respite. Similarly, in Connexão Ancestral, the artist weaves together 24 distinct stitched works as a representation of the largely unseen familial forces, which collectively, form the tapestry of life.

In all works presented in Rituals for Soul Search, Chirrime is in direct conversation with soul and spirit, consistently seeking purpose within the Universe and always led by an intuitive understanding of materiality. In her own words: “I let my soul decide which way to go… I never know where I’m going. Only what I need to narrate and express.”

Learn more about Rituals for Soul Search

©2022 Lizette Chirrime, Morton Fine Art

Available Artwork by LIZETTE CHIRRIME

Short Video / Artist Talk by OSI AUDU on his solo exhibition “A Sense of Self” at Morton Fine Art

18 Dec

“A Sense of Self” A solo exhibition of new drawings, paintings and sculpture by OSI AUDU

December 8th, 2021 – January 15th, 2022

Contact the gallery for viewing by appointment, price list, additional information and acquisition.

Complimentary catalogs available upon request.

(202) 628-2787 (call or text)

info@mortonfineart.com

About “A Sense of Self”

Morton Fine Art is proud to present A Sense of Self, a solo exhibition of new works by Nigerian multimedia artist Osi Audu; on view from December 8, 2021 – January 15, 2022.

Working across drawing, painting and sculpture, Audu considers notions of internal and external dualities, most distinctively, the Yoruba sense of “outer and inner head.” The works–geometric abstractions made alive with vibrant shades of blue, red, green, yellow and black, reflect Audu’s celebration of color as a manifestation of interior human essence. Each of the pieces in A Sense of Self are presented as self-portraits, which Audu articulates to be “the portraits of the intangible self.”

In conversation with classical African aesthetics, Audu’s works examine the human head as an axis of material and subliminal consciousness. In this sense, the artist captures what exists prior to and beyond embodiment, the self outside of matter. Though many of his pieces are rich in color, at their core, each one is a rumination on blackness—that which is imperceivable by the human eye. In works reminiscent of scientific illustrations, Audu gives image to internal expressions of the self, investigating the mechanisms and shapes of the human spirit.

As studies of visceral perception, Audu’s portraits ask questions such as, what might the intangible self look like after donning a Dogon bird mask; or after wearing an Efik headdress? His answer to the former is: four sharp rectangular shapes, with a free-form waved appendage; to the latter: a gently coiled form, with two flat surfaces. To Audu, these questions are neither anomalous nor incidental. Instead, they are essential vehicles for investigating what is nestled between the layers of the mind, body and personal identity that we each understand ourselves to have. A Sense of Self provides a deeply personal visual language for examining the complex structures of being. At once dynamic and uncomplicated, these works leave the audience with questions about themselves.

OSI AUDU received a B.A. in Fine Art with First Class Honors from the University of Ife, Ile-Ife, Nigeria, and an M.F.A. in Painting and Drawing from the University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, USA. He has been exhibited at, and collected by, public Institutions including the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C., The Newark Museum in Newark, New Jersey, USA, The British Museum and the Horniman Museum, both in London, and the Wellcome Trust Gallery in London. Audu’s work has also been exhibited at the Tobu Museum and Setagaya Museum, both in Japan, the Liverpool Museum in England, the Science Museum in London; and acquired for corporate collections including Microsoft Art Collection, Sony Classical New York and the Schmidt Bank in Germany. Audu has been represented by Morton Fine Art in Washington, D.C. since 2012.

Available artwork by OSI AUDU

OSI AUDU’s solo exhibition “A Sense of Self”

13 Dec
Osi Audu’s latest exhibition investigates notions of the self beyond  the materiality that defines our existence
Visit our Website
Self Portrait after Dogon Bird Mask, 2017-2021, 54″x72″, pastel and graphite on paper mounted on canvas

A Sense of Self
A solo exhibition of new drawings, paintings and sculpture by OSI AUDU
December 8th, 2021 – January 5th, 2022


Contact the gallery for viewing by appointment, price list, additional information and acquisition. Complimentary catalogs available upon request.

(202) 628-2787 (call or text) info@mortonfineart.com

Available Artwork by OSI AUDU
Self-Portrait after Head of Pangwe Figure, 2018, 22″x31″, acrylic on canvas
About A Sense of Self
Morton Fine Art is proud to present A Sense of Self, a solo exhibition of new works by Nigerian multimedia artist Osi Audu; on view from December 8, 2021 – January 5, 2022.
Working across drawing, painting and sculpture, Audu considers notions of internal and external dualities, most distinctively, the Yoruba sense of “outer and inner head.” The works–geometric abstractions made alive with vibrant shades of blue, red, green, yellow and black, reflect Audu’s celebration of color as a manifestation of interior human essence. Each of the pieces in A Sense of Self are presented as self-portraits, which Audu articulates to be “the portraits of the intangible self.”
Self Portrait II, 2021, 22″x31″, pastel and graphite on paper mounted on canvas
In conversation with classical African aesthetics, Audu’s works examine the human head as an axis of material and subliminal consciousness. In this sense, the artist captures what exists prior to and beyond embodiment, the self outside of matter. Though many of his pieces are rich in color, at their core, each one is a rumination on blackness—that which is imperceivable by the human eye. In works reminiscent of scientific illustrations, Audu gives image to internal expressions of the self, investigating the mechanisms and shapes of the human spirit.
Self Portrait after Head of a Benin Queen Mother, 2021, 26″x14″x10.5″, painted steel
As studies of visceral perception, Audu’s portraits ask questions such as, what might the intangible self look like after donning a Dogon bird mask; or after wearing an Efik headdress? His answer to the former is: four sharp rectangular shapes, with a free-form waved appendage; to the latter: a gently coiled form, with two flat surfaces. To Audu, these questions are neither anomalous nor incidental. Instead, they are essential vehicles for investigating what is nestled between the layers of the mind, body and personal identity that we each understand ourselves to have.  A Sense of Self provides a deeply personal visual language for examining the complex structures of being. At once dynamic and uncomplicated, these works leave the audience with questions about themselves.
Self Portrait after an Efik Headdress, 2021, 22″x31″, pastel and graphite on paper mounted on canvas
Self Portrait with Yoruba Hairstyle, 2021, 22″x31″, pastel and graphite on paper mounted on canvas
Available artwork by OSI AUDU
About OSI AUDU
OSI AUDU received a B.A. in Fine Art with First Class Honors from the University of Ife, Ile-Ife, Nigeria, and an M.F.A. in Painting and Drawing from the University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, USA. He has been exhibited at, and collected by, public Institutions including the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C., The Newark Museum in Newark, New Jersey, USA, The British Museum and the Horniman Museum, both in London, and the Wellcome Trust Gallery in London. Audu’s work has also been exhibited at the Tobu Museum and Setagaya Museum, both in Japan, the Liverpool Museum in England, the Science Museum in London; and acquired for corporate collections including Microsoft Art Collection, Sony Classical New York and the Schmidt Bank in Germany.
Audu has been represented by Morton Fine Art in Washington, D.C. since 2012.
About Morton Fine Art
Founded in 2010 in Washington, DC by curator Amy Morton, Morton Fine Art (MFA) is a fine art gallery and curatorial group that collaborates with art collectors and visual artists to inspire fresh ways of acquiring contemporary art. Firmly committed to the belief that art collecting can be cultivated through an educational stance, MFA’s mission is to provide accessibility to museum-quality contemporary art through a combination of substantive exhibitions and a welcoming platform for dialogue and exchange of original voice. Morton Fine Art specializes in a stellar roster of nationally and internationally renowned artists as well as has an additional focus on artwork of the African Diaspora.
Morton Fine Art founded the trademark *a pop-up project in 2010. *a pop-up project is MFA’s mobile gallery component which hosts temporary curated exhibitions nationally.
Gallery hours: By appointment only. Mask required.

Morton Fine Art
52 O St NW #302
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 628-2787
info@mortonfineart.com
www.mortonfineart.com

Partnership between global digital platform for art from Africa and the African Diaspora | Pavillon 54 | and Morton Fine Art

19 Jul

ENGAGING THE STORY OF ART FOR A SUSTAINABLE AFRICAN ART MARKET: THE PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN PAVILLON54 AND MORTON FINE ART

ENGAGING THE STORY OF ART FOR A SUSTAINABLE AFRICAN ART MARKET: THE PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN PAVILLON54 AND MORTON FINE ART

JULY 16, 2021

Amy Morton at Morton Fine Art gallery

As the one-stop global digital platform and community for art from Africa and the Diaspora, Pavillon54 always seeks to enter fruitful partnerships with artists, curators, collectors, and galleries. It became only natural, then, that for the next step of our development, we partnered with some of the most exciting international galleries that specialise in contemporary African art and share our vision for the African art market.

A couple of months ago, Pavillon54 entered a partnership with Morton Fine Art, a Washington DC gallery and curatorial group, headed by Amy Morton, that provides museum-quality art with a focus on the African Diaspora. We were instantly drawn to Morton Fine Art due to their impressive roster of artists and the diversity of their offering, whether geographically, in style, in medium, or in the range of artists themselves. What was most captivating, however, was our shared vision to go beyond the commercialisation of African art and to tell the underlying stories—an essential element to foster a sustainable development of the market.

With Pavillon54’s expertise in the African art market and digital strategy, combined with Morton Fine Art’s incredible roster of artists, finding contemporary African art that is not only aesthetically exceptional, but also enriched in narrative, becomes easier for the African art collector. Together, Pavillon54 and Morton Fine Art are making high-calibre contemporary African art more accessible, more transparent, and more meaningful.

We sat down with founder and curator Amy Morton, to learn more about how Morton Fine Art was founded, and what makes it an extraordinary destination for African art.

Artwork of Victor Ekpuk, Kesha Bruce and GA Gardner

Gallery View at Morton Fine Art, Artworks by Victor Ekpuk, Kesha Bruce and GA Gardner

P54: How did Morton Fine Art come to be? What was the driving force or need to be filled that resulted in the creation of the gallery?

AM: I founded Morton Fine Art in 2010. My first exhibition was launched early that year under Morton Fine Art’s trademark mobile gallery, a pop-up project in Washington, DC in the Penn Quarter neighborhood. It was in a former gallery space which I had leased short term, for a three-month period. I was interested in curating an exhibition that I felt positioned substantive art in the market and quickly realized I needed a permanent location to continue in that vein. I then leased a space in Adams Morgan, a quirky district in DC known for independent businesses. Morton Fine Art was in that location for 9 years before moving to a flourishing creative community in Truxton Circle at 52 O St NW, where it has been for nearly 3 years. 

From its inception, the inclusion of diverse voices, nurturing a safe space and working with an educational stance has been at the forefront of the gallery’s mission. I am firmly committed to a comfortable and intimate gallery space intended for exploration and journeying through visual art.  

P54: Why the focus on the African Diaspora?

AM: I have always been interested in and open to artwork and original voices from all over the world. Interconnectedness between people and exploring the human condition fascinates me. I value our collective overlaps and progressions toward deeper shared understandings and relationships. In the 90’s I attended Occidental College in Los Angeles, where my studies in art were informed by a strong commitment to equity and diversity. I think the combination of these personal priorities resulted in a natural inclusion of artists from the African diaspora, as well as from many other places and orientations, whose practice foregrounds pertinent, globally relevant, philosophical questions. With these values at the center of my work, Morton Fine Art’s curatorial vision has bloomed and been enriched organically.  

My vision for the gallery, as well as for my life, is to create a safe space for dialogue and the sharing of ideas. In that way, the evolution of the gallery has been very process-oriented, and not something that was artificially orchestrated or even conscious much of the time. It continues to be a growth-oriented work in progress. I studied fine art and art history and appreciate that visual art is a potent tool for highlighting issues which may otherwise be difficult for people to address. I am attracted to the intersection of art and activism, and how artwork can be an effective tool for personal introspection, interaction, dialogue and ultimately, I hope, change and growth. 

Osi Audu, Self Portrait, after Head of a Shango Staff, 2017 | Pavillon 54  Limited

 Osi Audu ‘Self Portrait, after Head of a Shango Staff’ (2017)

P54: What qualities do you see in an artist when you sign them on and how do these connect with the mission of Morton Fine Art?

AM: I usually know we are well matched right away. My artist partners are incredible at what they do! First and foremost, their creative vision and visual language inspire me on such a deep level. Examples include Osi Audu‘s philosophical exploration of “The Tangible and Intangible Self “; Victor Ekpuk‘s mining of historical narratives, the vocabulary of the contemporary African diaspora, and humanity’s connection to the sacred;  Rosemary Feit Covey‘s attention and sensitivity to the delicacy of earth and the natural world; Maliza Kiasuwa and Meron Engida‘s themes of reconciliation; and Lizette Chirrime’s interconnectivity between art practice, spirituality and healing.

Rosemary Feit Covey, Amethyst Deceivers II, 2019 | Pavillon 54 Limited

Rosemary Feit Covey ‘Amethyst Deceivers II’ (2019)

Their deep and meaningful engagement with these themes is what powers my belief in them and commitment to uplifting their voices. The artwork shown here is purely the artists’ visions, created without gallery interference. I look for long-term partnerships, so synergy is also important. The relationship needs to be trust-based and natural as we often spend years working together. These strong personal connections are important for understanding the creations themselves, allowing me to do my job better.

Victor Ekpuk - Works | Pavillon 54 Limited

 Victor Ekpuk ‘Mask Series 2’ (2018)

P54: What excites you most about the African art market, and working in this field?

AM: Learning, evolving, exploring questions and shared histories, and meeting artists with lasting substance and incredible talent—there is an abundance of all of that in the African art market. It is endless. With art, I can never be bored—either when exploring an individual piece I connect with or with creations at large. Art is a mirror, and it fascinates me to see what is revealed in a moment and how more reveals itself with time. Contemporary artists remind us of where we are, including our shortcomings and our most sacred parts. They invite us to do better.

Maliza Kiasuwa, Brown Skin 1, 2021 | Pavillon 54 Limited

Maliza Kiasuwa ‘Brown Skin 1’ (2021)

P54: What are some of Morton Fine Art’s greatest moments or achievements?

AM: First and foremost, I am proud to have such outstanding artist partners who center substantive concepts and demonstrate a mastery of medium. The artists I work with are thoughtful, tremendous and have so much to say and share! The backbone of the gallery is our partnership, as is our shared trust in each other. It is fascinating to see organic shifts and developments in their artwork and art practice, knowing their growth informs new iterations of brilliance. It is also very rewarding to witness their points of public-facing recognition, including in national and international museums and publications. 

Meron Engida - Works | Pavillon 54 Limited

Meron Engida ‘Solidarity 9’ (2020)

AM: I am personally proud of the warm vibe of the space and the maturity of conversations and experiences shared here through art. This is a gallery for everyone to explore, regardless of experience or exposure to art.  Authenticity is valued as are questions and feelings, even when layered.  In many ways it has the intimacy and hominess of a salon, and that facilitates connection with artists, collectors and enthusiasts alike.

Morton Fine Art

52 O St NW #302

Washington, DC 20001

(202) 628-2787

info@mortonfineart.com

http://www.mortonfineart.com

MALIZA KIASUWA featured in Nation and allAfrica

28 Jun

Kenya: Artist Takes Pride in Her Ancestry

By Margaretta Wa Gacheru

Having transformed a hay-filled barn into a giant home studio, Malisa Kiasuwa has been working throughout the Covid-19 lockdown preparing for two exhibitions currently underway overseas. One is in Washington, DC, while the other is in London.

Both sharing the theme, The Pride of Origins, the Naivasha-based Malisa has previously exhibited in Nairobi at Circle Art Gallery and at Alliance Francaise. But Amy Morton of the Morton Fine Art Gallery in Washington found Malisa on Instagram, the social medium currently accommodating many local fine artists.

Nonetheless, while visiting Kenya in 2019, Morton found her way to Circle Art where she got an even better impression of Malisa’s organically-based artistry.

“Amy was and still is interested in featuring contemporary African art at her gallery, which is how she got to know me,” says the Belgian-Congolese artist whose 21 collages and wall hangings featured in her first solo show in DC from June 2to 22.

Soulful spotlight

Meanwhile, another 16 of Malisa’s collages are featuring now at the Sulger-Buel Gallery in London, where the artist has set her soulful spotlight on not just the Pride of Origins but specifically on the notion of ancestry.

Malisa works with an array of mixed media, including organic materials like raffia grass, sisal rope, handmade papers, scraps of fabric, and threads made out of cotton and silk, silver and gold. She blends them with found objects that she collects during her frequent walks around the lake and Naivasha town.

The upcycling of found objects appeal to the artist’s concern for conservation. Her use of organic materials reflects her desire to stay close to the purity of nature. But during the lockdown, Malisa reflected upon all the many clashing contradictions festering in the world, including the ‘virus of racism’ and the coronavirus, the Black Lives Matter movement and the rise of white supremacy.

An example of reconciliation

She desires to see the reconciliation of these extremes, a coming together of disparate elements in the name of peace.

“I see myself as an example of reconciliation since my background is both European and African,” says Malisa.

In a sense, both exhibitions are about Identity, reconciliation, and ‘the pride of origins’. These themes are symbolised most visibly in her London show where she includes collages that combine engraved portraits of 18th-century European aristocrats upon whose faces Malisa has affixed wooden West African masks (the kind that enthralled Western artists like Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse).

“I found the engravings of my [Swiss] husband’s ancestors in an attic of his family’s home,” says Malisa who saw the etchings had been forgotten, so she brought them back to Kenya where she and her family have been living since 2013.

Treating them like the other ‘found objects’ that she uses to upcycle into her art, the masks superimposed on the faces of these bourgeois white men are meant to symbolize what reconciliation might look like. Yet the juxtaposition of the two-dimensional etchings and the three-dimensional masks could also be interpreted in other ways, either to amuse or to annoy.

There’s an irony of her embellishing the men’s portraits with African masks which had once been used in sacred rituals and infused with mystical powers. At the same time, Western aristocrats are not the only ‘nobility’ in the London show.

Malisa herself comes from West African nobility. “My father’s ‘tribe’ is Ndongo, the same one as Queen Zinga [or Nzinga] of Congo,” she recalls. Noting that Zinga was renowned for her military and diplomatic leadership which is credited for fending off Portuguese colonialism and slave trade for over 30 years.

Zinga is often identified as coming from Angola, but Malisa explains the Ndongo kingdom, before the colonial carving up of Africa in the 19th century, traversed northern Angola as well as southern Congo.

“Our people had lived on the border of what is now Congo,” says Malisa, adding that she wants her children to take pride in their shared ancestry.

In both exhibitions, there is at least one explicitly autobiographic collage featuring a mug shot of the artist wearing a crown, either made of hand-made paper or animal skin. As if enthroned in her exhibition just as Queen Zinga headed her vast kingdom, the letter ‘Z’ is emblazoned on each crown, standing at once for Zinga and for Zaire, which was the name of her country at the time that she was born.

Read the original article on Nation.

Available artwork by MALIZA KIASUWA

Morton Fine Art, 52 O St NW #302, Washington, DC 20001 USA

http://www.mortonfineart.com

info@mortonfineart.com

+001 (202) 628-2787 (call or text)

MALIZA KIASUWA featured in Business Daily

3 Jun
ART

Artist’s wall hanging get space in UK, US galleries

FRIDAY MAY 28 2021

By MARGARETTA WA GACHERU

Coincidentally, Maliza Kiasuwa has two solo exhibitions going on simultaneously, one in London, the other in Washington DC. Meanwhile, she still has her art at Circle Art Gallery in Nairobi where the curator of Morton Fine Art Gallery, Amy Morton is giving the Belgian-Congolese artist her first Washington DC solo show from June 2 to 22.

“Amy found my work first on Instagram, which led her to Circle Art,” recalls Maliza who has had shows at Circle gallery and Alliance Francaise since she first came to Kenya with her family in early 2013.

Speaking from her farm in Naivasha where she has been fortunate to live through the Covid-19 lockdown amidst the quiet of nature, Maliza says she has pondered many things this past year, everything from the virus, racism, to pandemic fears.

The result has been a rich outpouring of artworks, 16 of which are in London at her Ancestry exhibition at the Sulger-Buel Gallery, and 21 in the Morton Gallery in DC.

“Both are entitled ‘The Pride of Origin’ but the London show focuses more on our ‘Ancestry’, while the DC exhibition is slightly more abstract,” says the artist.

The shows have a great deal in common. Both use materials that are either recycled, organic, or handmade like the Washi paper from Japan and the homemade paper that she has made herself.

And both reflect the issue of identity in ways that compel us to consider how clashing cultures, customs, convictions, and even colours can be reconciled.

“Coming from a mixed background myself, I want my children to be proud of their ancestry, their identity,” says Maliza who admits she does not classify herself as either/or European or African, since she is both.

Seeing herself as essentially an embodiment of reconciliation, she hopes that by stitching, weaving, and blending contrasting elements, her art can reveal the beauty of merger.

Yet her two exhibitions are quite different despite their shared theme, use of mixed media and mutual forms are given that most of the works are collages.

Nonetheless, she also has several three-dimensional pieces in Washington. They include her kimono-like wall-hanging entitled ‘Imperfections’, made with Washi and handmade papers, gold threads, and assorted stitched fabrics.

I found the London show both ironic and amusing while her Washington DC one is more cerebral, organic, and abstract. What is marvellous about many of the pieces up at Sulger-Buel until mid-June is the self-mockery of works like ‘The Proud of Origins Collection I and III.’

Both pieces feature engraved portraits of her Swiss spouse’s distant relations that she found in a family attic and brought back to Africa like other ‘found objects’ she picks up during her walks around Lake Naivasha and then employs in her art.

Maliza Kiasuwa’s ‘Imperfections’ artwork at the Morton Art Gallery in Washington DC, on June 2, 2021. PHOTO | POOL

It was on top of these 18th Century images that Maliza superimposes West African masks. It is as if she is making good fun not just with her people but with European colonial culture that she feels has to embrace or at least accept the reality of African culture, whether they like it or not.

The other evidence that Maliza intends for her art to make a power statement about the equal footing that African and European cultures share is contained in her two self-portraits, one in either show.

Both blend black and white fabrics, although in London she weaves in more tweed while in Washington DC she uses more hessian.

But both use the same photograph, the artist’s mug shot, looking quite stern. The big difference is the crown worn by this dreadlocked lady on which is her regal logo, Z, short for Zaire, her original African homeland.

One might have expected the artist to be at the London exhibition. But after placing African masks (the kind Picasso and Matisse adored) over those European faces, the sensibility of her show might have shifted from being ironic and witty to abusive and easily misunderstood.

The London show has several self-portraits of Maliza although they are understated with Africanised ‘crowns’ made of animal skin or plastic fishnet mesh mixed with organic fabrics.

The handmade and the manufactured stand side-by-side in Maliza’s art. Be it black and white, realistic and abstract, dynastic and libertarian; or even bourgeois and peasant, in Maliza’s world, the time for reconciliation has come, not through wars but art.

Available Artwork by MALIZA KIASUWA

Wallpaper Magazine, Victor Ekpuk and Prizm Art Fair 2020

4 Dec

ART | 1 DAY AGO | BY HARRIET LLOYD-SMITH

Prizm Art Fair gives a platform to African Diasporic perspectives

Coinciding with Miami Art Week, Prizm Art Fair is championing and examining the intersections of African cinema traditions and visual art

Sthenjwa Luthuli, Reaching For Stars (2020)

In spite of widespread coronavirus-related hurdles, 2020 has offered glimmers of hope for the art world, particularly in the steps taken to highlight, and rectify the lack of diversity across the industry.

One art fair, Prizm, has been spotlighting diverse voices in contemporary visual art since 2013, with a core mission to widen the scope of international contemporary art from Africa and the African Diaspora.

By carving out a space for cross-cultural exchange in Miami and beyond, the fair seeks to address socio-political and cultural issues pertinent to people of African descent, while educating and nurturing the city’s inhabitants.

Victor Ekpuk, Mother Series #1 (2019) as seen at Prizm Art Fair. Image courtesy of Morton Fine Art

‘African Diasporic communities have attempted repeatedly to blanket themselves from a host of incessant obstacles – systemic injustice, racism, economic disparity, gender inequality – while the goal post of progress stretched farther away with each giant leap made towards it,’ says Mikhaile Solomon, founder and director of Prizm.

For its eighth edition, coinciding with an unsurprisingly scaled-down Miami Art Week, the fair’s online programme will feature 47 artists in ‘Noir, Noir: Meditations on African Cinema and its Influence on Visual Art’, an exhibition curated and organised by Solomon and interdisciplinary artist William Cordova. Noir, Noir references the African avant-garde film tradition and encourages a deeper understanding of global African identities through the intersection of cinema and contemporary visual art. Elsewhere, highlights include a programme of film screenings and talks led by leaders in Diasporic Visual arts.

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John Baloyi, Lititha 4 (2020). Courtesy of Dyman Gallery

Participating galleries hail from eleven countries including the United States, Caribbean and the African continent including Barbados, Ethiopia, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Saint Maarten, South Africa and Trinidad. Featured artists include Victor Ekpuk, Yanira Collado, Sthenjwa Luthuli, Alicia Piller, Justice Mukheli, Versia Harris and Milena Carranza Valcárcel. Prizm will also spotlight emerging Miami-based artists who engage in socio-political issues pertinent to people of African descent, and in the city’s growth as a cultural hub. 

 

Prizm Art Fair will be accessible online until 21 December 2020. prizmartfair.com

Link to Wallpaper* Article

Available Artwork by VICTOR EKPUK