Lakwena Maciver, Nothing Can Separate Us, 2021, Hand-stitched patchwork with appliqué, 116 x 153 cm. Courtesy of Vigo Gallery
1-54 is excited to announce London-based artist Lakwena Maciver, has been selected for the 2021 edition of the 1-54 Courtyard Sculpture Commission. With the support of Vigo Gallery, Maciver will be creating 20 large and interactive basketball paintings in her signature bold style.
Along with the basketball paintings that will take over the courtyard this fall, Lakwena Maciver’s powerful Nothing Can Separate Us flags will fill the Somerset House West Wing corridor. Each of the 7 flags is hand-stitched and boasts a unique colour combination. First conceived as a painting in 2020, the work evolved into a larger series that took on a wider meaning as the world witnessed the harsh reality of the coronavirus pandemic. As London, and the rest of the world, has slowly emerged from lockdown, the message on the flags still resonates deeply. The flag installation at Somerset House follows a public installation by the artist in Covent Garden, where flags bearing the same Nothing Can Separate Us message lined King Street and Henrietta Street.
Based in London, Lakwena employs bright colour and bold text to create paintings which, often appearing in public spaces in the form of murals, can be understood to be “escape routes, afrofuturistic portals to utopia.”
Lakwena means ‘messenger’ in the northern Ugandan language Acholi. Born in 1986, her name is reflected in her artistic practice, which is concerned with messages. Her eye-catching paintings explore and gently subvert ideas relating to decolonisation, redemption, escapism, afrofuturism, and utopia.
Lakwena’s work has been shown internationally in cities including London, New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Paris, and more. Her work has also appeared in public spaces from Tate Britain, Somerset House, Facebook and the Southbank Centre in London, to the Bowery Wall in New York, a juvenile detention centre in Arkansas and a monastery in Vienna.
Maciver explores the role of the artist as a mythmaker by creating painted prayers and meditations that aim to decolonise and challenge the external and internalised voices of mass media. Her approach is instinctive and autodidactic, producing visceral, rhythmic, and immersive panel paintings, iconic murals and installations employing acid bright colour and bold typographic text. Words are central to her practice used as both images and powerful messages by selecting ideas and encapsulating them in bold phrases surrounded by kaleidoscopic patterns and vivid colors. Maciver’s phrases are prayers and meditations that aim to resonate with her audience.
Vigo Gallery represents emerging and established international artists, curating shows in both the public and private arenas as well as placing numerous historic and contemporary works into the collections of prominent museums and foundations including, amongst others, TATE Modern, The British Museum, MoMA, The Ashmolean Museum, Sharjah Art Foundation, and The Metropolitan Museum. In addition to the contemporary focus and primary programme, the gallery also shines light on historically significant yet often undervalued artists with strong museum and curatorial followings. Vigo Gallery has developed long-term interest in the African diaspora and African American artists although the programme is truly international, working with artists and estates from Belgium, Russia, America, Australia and Japan alongside a British contingent. The gallery aims to think laterally to develop opportunity and exposure for their artists and to make collecting a rewarding and exciting experience for their clients.