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Pierre Huyghe: The Artist as Director Ocula Conversation Pierre Huyghe: The Artist as Director

Pierre Huyghe is a producer of spectacular and memorable enigmas, with works that function more like mirages than as objects. Abyssal Plain (2015–ongoing), his contribution to the 2015 Istanbul Biennial, curated by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, was installed on the seabed of the Marmara Sea, some 20 metres below the surface of the water and close to...

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MoMA Expansion: Once the Modern, Always the Modern Ocula Report MoMA Expansion: Once the Modern, Always the Modern 29 Nov 2019 : Mohammad Salemy for Ocula

In the early decades of its existence, New York's Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), founded in 1929, transformed from a philanthropic project modestly housed in a few rooms of the Heckscher Building on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street, to an alleged operating node in the United States' cultural struggle during the cold war, and one of the...

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Hans Hartung and Art Informel: Exhibition Walkthrough Ocula Insight | Video
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Hans Hartung and Art Informel: Exhibition Walkthrough 15 October 2019

Hans Hartung and Art Informel at Mazzoleni London (1 October 2019-18 January 2020) presents key works by the French-German painter while highlighting his connection with artists active in Paris during the 50s and 60s. In this video, writer and historian Alan Montgomery discusses Hartung's practice and its legacy.Born in Leipzig in 1904, Hans...

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Michael Armitage

b. 1984, Kenya

Michael Armitage is a Kenyan-British painter based in London whose work has a basis in East African tradition. His paintings are both an expression of personal experience and collective lament to the issues that he considers, but he also couples this local imagery of symbols and mythology. In doing so there is an underlying optimism to his works; they suggest that Kenya is a culture in a state of flux, and certainly has some archaic aspects, but these should not be fully representative of Kenyan culture. There is much to be celebrated and Armitage sees these positive aspects as a critical element in addressing Kenya’s social issues.

The aesthetic qualities of Armitage’s work are instrumental in delivering the socio/political ideas he observes, as they provide an added depth and mysticism to the paintings. His gestural and flowing application of paint creates a lush expressiveness that recalls the dreamlike, escapist colour palette of the Fauvists, although this is certainly no representation of some idyllic paradise. Armitage’s works have an unsettling nature to them, hinting and alluding to the realities of modern Kenyan society, allowing the works to be a poetic recollection of events, ones that evoke emotion in the viewer, rather than a purely historical document. Armitage’s use of Lubugo bark cloth in particular gives his works profundity and added abstraction, allowing for more thoughtful consideration of the matters at hand. Traditionally a material for burial shrouds, Armitage saw it being sold to tourists as mementos and curios; the commodification of this meaningful material reducing it to a banal object. By reclaiming the Lubugo cloth, Armitage both addresses this reduction of meaning in culturally significant items and provides a greater sense of narrative, as the physical nature of the cloth dictates how the painted forms appear on the surface and the process of making and working on the cloth suggests a similarity to the narratives of East African mythologies.

By utilising a strong sense of place in his works coupled with signifiers of Western art history, Armitage also puts into question the ‘colonial gaze’ traditionally held by Western artists, so as to dispel any preconceptions about East African culture held by outside viewers. By manipulating this deeply entrenched idea, Armitage is able to reveal the true realities of Kenya to an otherwise misinformed audience, both highlighting uncomfortable elements and showcasing Kenya’s rich culture and heritage.

Born in 1984 in Nairobi, Kenya, Michael Armitage moved to England to study, earning himself a BA in Fine Art at the Slade School of Fine Art and a postgraduate diploma from the Royal Academy Schools. Group exhibitions which he was involved in include Ascension, Simon Oldfield, London, 2008; Connecting Worlds, UBM, London, 2013; Myth and Market’ (with John Tiney), Studio 1:1, London, 2013; 100 Painters of Tomorrow, Beers Contemporary, London, 2014; Tomorrow : London, South London Gallery, 2014; La vie moderne, The 13th Lyon Biennale, 2015; Painting is Not Doomed to Repeat Itself, Hollis Taggart Galleries, New York, 2015;  and Imitation of Life: Melodrama and Race in the 21st Century, HOME, Manchester, 2016. Armitage has also showcased his work in solo exhibitions at White Cube in London in 2015.

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In Ocula Magazine

MoMA Expansion: Once the Modern, Always the Modern Ocula Report MoMA Expansion: Once the Modern, Always the Modern 29 Nov 2019 : Mohammad Salemy for Ocula

In the early decades of its existence, New York's Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), founded in 1929, transformed from a philanthropic project modestly housed in a few rooms of the Heckscher Building on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street, to an alleged operating node in the United States' cultural struggle during the cold war, and one of the...

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Michael Armitage and Kudzanai-Violet Hwami on Painting Ocula Conversation Michael Armitage and Kudzanai-Violet Hwami on Painting

At just 26 years of age, Kudzanai-Violet Hwami has made two enviable milestones this year. The Zimbabwean-born and London-based artist represented her country of birth at the 58th Venice Biennale alongside Georgina Maxim, Neville Starling, and Cosmas Shiridzinomwa; while her first institutional solo exhibition opened at Gasworks in London on 19...

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In Related Press

Tightrope walk: the show that sums up art in 67 paintings Related Press Tightrope walk: the show that sums up art in 67 paintings The Guardian : 2 December 2015

They are small things, clustered in an order that is like an interrupted thought. Hung just as they were in his studio, Raoul De Keyser’s last paintings now occupy a wall at David Zwirner gallery in London. De Keyser died in 2012 at the age of 82. A few marks, some strange bent shapes; some are barely paintings at all.One has a small...

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