September 3, 2020 - Haus der Kunst - Michael Armitage: Paradise Edict
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September 3, 2020

Haus der Kunst

Michael Armitage, The Chicken Thief, 2019. © the artist. Photo: White Cube (Theo Christelis).

Michael Armitage
Paradise Edict
September 4, 2020–February 14, 2021

Haus der Kunst
Prinzregentenstrasse 1
80538 Munich
Germany
Hours: Wednesday–Monday 10am–6pm,
Thursday 10am–10pm,
Friday–Saturday 10am–8pm

T +49 89 21127113
mail@hausderkunst.de

hausderkunst.de
Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / YouTube

Michael Armitage
Paradise Edict
September 4, 2020–February 14, 2021

Haus der Kunst
Prinzregentenstrasse 1
80538 Munich
Germany
Hours: Wednesday–Monday 10am–6pm,
Thursday 10am–10pm,
Friday–Saturday 10am–8pm

T +49 89 21127113
mail@hausderkunst.de

hausderkunst.de
Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / YouTube

He leaps over two fire-painted blossoms resting in the stark cracked city pavement. Roused, these unfurl into late-Christmas-season orange-and-black butterflies that flutter into the violet shade of a smog-encrusted roadside jacaranda tree. A thrum becomes a hum becomes thumping footsteps, and soon he is entangled in a thicket of jeers and tossed gray, black and brown stones as he flees toward a still-distant night.

With Michael Armitage. Paradise Edict, the Haus der Kunst presents the first comprehensive overview of works by the British-Kenyan painter Michael Armitage (*1984 in Nairobi, Kenya), including a diverse range of influences and studies.

Michael Armitage interweaves political events with figures from African and European mythologies, philosophy, and art history within large-format oil paintings, mixing personal memories with images drawn from mass media and pop culture. These multilayered narratives unfold across timeless painted scenes⁠—a world of animals, plants, and fables. Armitage incorporates the irregularities and seams of the organic material "lubugo" into the compositions of his pictures; a textile made in southern Uganda from the bark of the ficus tree, "lubugo" is traditionally used in coronations as well as in healing rituals and as a burial shroud.

East Africa is not only evident within the material quality of the bark cloth itself but also in Armitage’s visual language, which draws on details and brilliant colors derived from both urban and rural contexts—feeding on the sometimes lush flora and fauna of Kenya. Armitage exposes the exoticizing gaze upon the African continent and sharpens our awareness of the lingering traces of colonial attitudes. At the same time, multiple connections also exist within his work to East African artists such as Meek Gichugu, Jak Katarikawe, Asaph Ng’ethe Macua, Theresa Musoke, Elimo Njau, and Sane Wadu, whose figurative painting and sculpture have fundamentally shaped his visual imagination.

While elements of East African modernism are fused in Armitage’s work with the history of European art and ideas, his pictures also address current social and political subjects with an equally subtle yet engaging manner. In their complexity, the works presented in the exhibition “Michael Armitage. Paradise Edict” confront us with universal aspects of what it means to be human: violence, love, sexuality, religion, as well as the powerful images of myths and dream states.

Curator: Anna Schneider 
Curatorial Assistant: Dimona Stöckle

Michael Armitage. Paradise Edict features three short video portraits by artists Asaph Ng’ethe Macua, Elimo Njau, and Sane Wadu. They were jointly commissioned by the Haus der Kunst and the Nairobi Contemporary Art Institute (NCAI), an institution founded by Michael Armitage for the reappraisal and preservation of contemporary art in East Africa. The videos are also accessible online.

The exhibition is supported by the Goethe Institute as part of a new international exchange program developed with the Haus der Kunst. The program relies on the Goethe Institute’s global network to promote professional exchange within the community and internationally. In its first iteration, NCAI director Ayako Bertolli will join the Haus der Kunst’s team for several weeks.

The public program of Michael Armitage. Paradise Edict includes a conversation in the show with art historian Martha Kazungu (September 11), a lecture by Ayako Bertolli (November 4), and a conversation between Michael Armitage and the author Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor (November 19).

A catalogue of the exhibition will be published by Walther König.

 

Opening quote taken from Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor’s novel Dust (2014, Penguin Books Random House).

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Paradise Edict
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