Lakwena Maciver’s courtyard sculpture commission at Somerset House
1-54 is excited to announce London-based artist Lakwena Maciver, was selected for the 2021 edition of the 1-54 Courtyard Sculpture Commission. With the support of Vigo Gallery, Maciver created 20 large and interactive basketball paintings in her signature bold style.
Along with the basketball paintings that took over the courtyard this fall, Lakwena Maciver’s powerful Nothing Can Separate Us flags filled 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 followed 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.
1-54 PRESENTED OSINACHI X CHRISTIE’S NFT SERIES – ‘DIFFERENT SHADES OF WATER’
1-54 in collaboration with Christie’s presented an auction of Nigerian crypto-artist Osinachi’s NFT series Different Shades of Water. The digital artworks associated with the NFTs was on view at 1-54 London 2021, curated by Daria Borisova. The online NFT auction marked the first NFT by a contemporary African artist offered by Christie’s in Europe and was the first NFT collaboration for 1-54. The digital artworks associated with the NFTs in Different Shades of Water were exhibited at Somerset House during the fair, with the online-only auction for the NFTs, First Open: Post-War and Contemporary Art Online, took place from 5 to 19 October. Christie’s partnership with 1-54 demonstrated the auction house’s commitment to showcasing contemporary African art to their global client base. This is in addition to the 1-54 Online Powered by Christie’s platform that enhanced exposure internationally.
Considered Africa’s foremost crypto artist, Osinachi (born Prince Jacon Osinachi Igwe, 1991), is a Nigerian visual artist whose work explores personal experiences within a technological environment. Aesthetically and procedurally, Osinachi’s work explores visible existence as protest by depicting and reimagining how individuals and collectives engage in advocacy for freedom of identity by thwarting societal expectations. This could be through the things they wear, the paraphernalia they adorn themselves with, or simply by being and existing in a form that society frowns upon. He was a finalist for the Bridgeman Studio Award 2019.
The five NFTs from Osinachi’s ongoing series Different Shades of Water, are inspired by David Hockney’s Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) (1972). In this series, Osinachi imagines what the pool would look like with different shades of water, playing with the position of the subject’s body, and exploring how daylight can change our perception of water in a pool. He builds on his signature style to emphasise the relationship between person and water in a world where people have adapted to recreating nature and the natural body. Each piece is a commentary on the endless prioritisation of work and achievements over the wellbeing of the human body.
From a technical point of view, the series is a triumph for Osinachi in his quest to digitally create a believable water body across multiple digital paintings. He exclusively uses Microsoft Office to produce his work, pushing the programme’s limited design capabilities. Osinachi believes each piece he creates is a challenge that empowers him to become an even better artist.
For the first time, Christie’s had a presence at an art fair with a booth showcasing Osinachi’s NFTs. In addition, Osinachi offered a cryptocurrency “OSINA” to reward visitors to the fair and encourage collectors to build a community, exploring and interacting with the world of crypto by scanning a QR code to receive the OSINA via an app.
A portion of the proceeds from Christie’s was donated to the African Culture fund, a pan-African organisation supporting the arts education sectors and cultural and creative industries on the African continent. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the African Culture Fund has continued to support the resilience of African artists and cultural actors who the crisis has negatively impacted.
1-54 Highlights: REDEFINING THE TREND – Histories in the Making
An exhibition curated by Christine Eyene
REDEFINING THE TREND – Histories in the Making explored how new artistic practices from Africa and the diaspora contribute to the defining of present aesthetics, discourses, and creative processes while opening new chapters in the continent’s art histories.
Bringing together works created over the past year, during what we have come to know as ‘unprecedented times,’ this exhibition looked at how artists navigate the unknown through artistic visions that reassert their creative approach and allow scope for experimentation. The selection of works emphasised the variety and richness of the materials used and techniques developed by the artists. Through this, coming to the fore are personal and collective histories, and societal issues, envisaged from reflective, abstract, and process-based perspectives.
REDEFINING THE TREND posited practices at a particular moment that is both contemporary and historical. It also anchored them in a context that is producing ruptures from which only something new can emerge.
The exhibition was on view during 1-54 London 2021 at Christie’s, London.
8 King Street
London SW1Y 6QT
Date: 9 – 15 October
Monday to Friday 09am – 5pm
Weekend 12pm – 5pm
01.01 Art Platform
As a part of our 1-54 London 2021 Special Projects, we were pleased to announce 01.01 Art Platform exhibited work by Mestre Didi and Abdias do Nascimento.
01.01 Art Platform encourages a more ethical, sustainable, and committed approach to collecting contemporary art, with a focus on artists from Africa and its diaspora. The platform proposes a relationship with art and collecting that is grounded by the ethics and aesthetics of the African matrix.
In Mestre Didi + Abdias do Nascimento developed by Ana Beatriz Almeida, Keyna Eleison, Camilla Rocha Campos and João Simões, 01.01 Art Platform approaches Afro-Brazilian logics explored by iconic Brazilian artists Mestre Didi and Abdias Nascimento.
Native African logic systems alive in Brazil greatly influenced Afro-Brazilian artists, creating a unique ethical and aesthetic universe. In the 1970s, during the Brazilian dictatorship, two longtime friends emerged from this culture proposing decoloniality on their own terms. Mestre Didi, master of ancestor worship and death rites, was introduced to contemporary art through exhibitions such as Magicien de La Terre. Abdias do Nascimento, a global exponent of pan-Africanist thought who lived and developed his artwork between Nigeria and the US during his exile – knew much about the Yoruba, Ga and Ewe philosophies. Both of them participated in Festac ’77. Considering that decoloniality is urgent, 01.01 Art Platform’s proposal for the 1-54 Special Project is to promote an acquisition that recognizes the systems of thought present in these pieces of art. The decolonial acquisition project is a partnership with IPEAFRO and Cida de Nana (high priest of Nana worship and Mestre Didi’s granddaughter). The proposal aimed to match one work by Mestre Didi with one by Abdias do Nascimento, in three distinct arrangements. The acquisition project proposes to establish feeding the transcendental dimensions of these sets of artworks as a museological practice.
The 1-54 Annual Book
Having published over 15 highly regarded and celebrated fair catalogues since its founding in 2013, 1-54 is proud to announce the creation of a new ouvrage which was launched at our London edition: The 1-54 Annual Book.
The 1-54 Annual Book is quintessential of all the artists, galleries, programming and knowledge platformed at and presented by 1-54 over a single year. The inaugural 1-54 Annual Book is a substantial endeavour that will include four editions of the fair from 2020 – 2021: 1-54 London 2020; 1-54 Paris 2021; 1-54 New York 2021 and 1-54 London 2021.
Alongside a biography and work for every artist presented (300+) and a profile about every gallery (60+), the book also includes transcriptions of three of the most impactful and memorable panel discussions at 1-54 Forum and unique artist interviews.
The 1-54 Annual Book, is a reflection of a year of challenges where adaptation was the keyword. It is a statement of creativity, innovation, resilience, and a commitment to the broader mission: the fair’s dedication to showcasing contemporary art from Africa and its diasporas. Order now here!
New Limited-Edition 1-54 x Christie’s Tote Bag
Following the success of our 1-54 tote bags last year, we have once again partnered with Christie’s to create a new tote bag for 1-54 London 2021, featuring the piece Waiting by Souad Abdelrasoul (Circle Art Gallery.)
The proceeds from the sale of our tote bags are donated to the African Culture Fund (AFC), a pan-African organisation supporting the arts education sectors and cultural and creative industries on the African continent. Created in 2018 in Bamako, the AFC main objectives are to:
– Finance cultural and creative projects through calls for proposals;
– Mobilize funds for the structuring and professionalization of the African cultural and creative sector;
– Ensure visibility and connection between donors and artists;
– Allow an equitable and sustainable distribution of resources for the benefit of actors in the cultural and creative sector across the African continent.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the African Culture Fund has continued to support the resilience of African artists and cultural actors who the crisis has negatively impacted. Read more here in a special interview with its President M Mamou Daffé.
Our new tote bag, and our previous three tote bags by Godfried Donkor (Gallery 1957), Ajarb Bernard Ategwa (Jack Bell Gallery), and Sungi Mlengeya (Afriart Gallery), are available for purchase here.