I hesitate to include this exhibition here, partly because it’s not really in London, but mostly because I feel sure that the artist would have a thing or two to say about being mentioned on a site about ‘African art’. However. With apologies to Raimi Gbadamosi for the limitations of a blog post like this (and thanks to Elsbeth Court for the tip-off), I’d like to draw attention to his current show, Banquet, which is ongoing at the Bracknell Gallery, a little over an hour from London Waterloo by train.
Taking dining, conversation and social and behavioural codes as its starting point, the installation promises to explore the complex social interactions that play out across a celebratory dinner table, using the artist’s characteristic black, white and yellow theme. Gbadamosi is a British artist with a Doctorate in Fine Art from the Slade, and has done extensive scholarly and curatorial work alongside his artistic practice. His thought-provoking investigations into diversity, race and representation have earned him frequent slots at events aiming to explore and explode such issues, especially where deconstructing an artistic, geographical, racial or any other category is concerned. Gbadamosi’s work on Africa in this context has been key, and it is in this capacity that I include him here, as part of this site’s attempt to side-step expectations and question what ‘African art’ might be.
I first encountered Gbadamosi’s colour conundrum at a symposium coinciding with Tate Liverpool’s Afromodern exhibition last year. If I remember rightly, after a brief and perplexing introduction, the artist randomly distributed colour cards – ‘I am Black’, ‘I am White’ and ‘I am Yellow’ – to the audience before asking each group to find one another. Once we’d done that, after much shuffling of chairs and awkward questioning of total strangers about ‘which colour’ they were, we were instructed to return to our seats. And that was it. It sounds bizarre, but as an unwitting participant in one of Gbadamosi’s category-busting performance-cum-experiments, I can honestly say that it made a lasting impression. His work does not offer many answers, but it raises important questions in playful and compelling ways that totally avoid the pitfalls of over-earnestness and obviousness (not to mention boringness) that often threaten to scupper ‘identity art’.
The show continues until 29th January.
Wed, 7 – 9.30
Thu, Fri, Sat, 1 – 9.30
Sun, 1 – 5
South Hill Park Arts Centre
South Hill Park, Ringmead, Bracknell