Painting Overlooked Stories From Kenya
“Part of what I’ve always loved from the process of making is engaging in the imagination.”
Kenyan-born artist Michael Armitage remembers from childhood how “the life of an artist” meant a life where “the imagination is important and where the consistency of the story isn’t what matters, but the journey of the story is perhaps what is more interesting”. Read more …
Armitage intertwines his own memories with both Western and East African culture in his paintings, such as the rally in Nairobi during the 2017 election, which Armitage witnessed in person. These experiences later made their way into multiple paintings, such as ‘The Promised Land’ from 2019. A painting where Armitage also connects and reflects on the seductive ideology of the female nude in the history of painting, with the “very familiar seductive ideologies” being used at such rallies with the aim to make people more fervent and emotionally engaged.
Armitage explains, “Often with political moments, they feel specific to a time, feel specific to you in your situation, like this is it, you know, but then the form of expression, the language is often something that is translated again. Not only across cultures but across times. You can find almost the same rhetoric being used to the same effect. So that was the land I was occupying in my mind when approaching the painting – ‘The Promised Land’”.
With numerous solo exhibitions at esteemed galleries and museums around the world, Michael Armitage, in a short time, has established himself as one of the most prominent and highly acclaimed voices of his generation.
Michael Armitage (b. 1984) is a Kenyan-born artist living and working in Nairobi and London. Armitage received his BA in Fine Art from the Slade School of Fine Art, London in (2007), and has a Postgraduate Diploma from the Royal Academy Schools, London (2010). Solo exhibitions include among others the 58th Venice Biennale (2019), Whitechapel Gallery, London (2020), Royal Academy, London (2021), Haus der Kunst, Munich (2020), and Ny Carlsberg Glyptoteket (2021).
Michael Armitage was interviewed by Kasper Bech Dyg in connection with the exhibition ‘Account of an Illiterate Man’, at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptoteket, in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Camera: Jakob Solbakken
Produced and edited by: Kasper Bech Dyg
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2021
Supported by Den A.P. Møllerske Fond
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