Nelson Makamo Solo Exhibition, London 2022

Nelson Makamo’s 1st solo exhibition with Rise Art ran from July 22 – August 25 in London’s Fitzrovia. In this article, our Curator Phin Jennings displays on the demonstrate.

By Phin Jennings | 14 Dec 2022

Nelson Makamo | Picture: Vitalij Sidorovic

“I see them, and they see me so I paint them.” It is early June, the starting of winter season in Johannesburg, and I am with Nelson Makamo in his studio. Laid out on the ground in front of us are all-around 30 paintings and drawings, a new body of perform for his initial London solo exhibition in a lot more than five several years. He is conversing about the factor of exchange in his perform: “and they see me.”

The way that Makamo’s figures seem out at the viewer has grow to be a recognisable attribute of his drawings and paintings. Wanting at them, I can sense my gaze currently being satisfied by a subject matter that appears again at me. The men and women he draws and paints – ordinarily young citizens of African villages – are engaged in a reciprocal connection with the viewer when you see an artwork by Makamo, there is a sensation that you are getting seen far too. Due to the fact of this, they involve far more treatment and awareness than most portraits do.

At the exhibition’s opening reception, some weeks just after I very first encountered the artworks in Makamo’s studio, I overheard someone chatting about their possess experience of this feeling: “Nelson’s get the job done just would make you prevent.”

Untitled by Nelson Makamo | Picture: Marco Bahler / BFA

This high quality of the artist’s get the job done is no accident. In owning them glance back at the viewer, Makamo provides his subjects the company that they are far too generally denied. Outside the house of the artist’s perform, African small children are usually depicted as currently being destitute and hopeless, a a person-dimensional and voyeuristic narrative that dehumanises them by getting absent their means to outline them selves. There is a skewed harmony of ability, and no component of exchange they are seemed at by the earth, but robbed of the ability to return its gaze. Makamo redresses this equilibrium by owning his subjects meet up with the eye of the viewer, supplying them back their personalities.

In this exhibition, our London viewers was exposed to the sheer range of these personalities. The thirty 3 operates on display depicted curiosity, defiance, melancholy, craving, generosity, pleasure, mischievousness and so a great deal extra. To me, Makamo’s get the job done is all about changing perceptions. My hope for this exhibition, the artist’s re-introduction to the British isles, is that website visitors left with their perceptions of Africa improved, the exhausted trope of hopelessness changed with some of Makamo’s undiluted expressions of identity.

Entirely Existing, Untitled and Untitled by Nelson Makamo (courtesy of Marco Bahler / BFA) | Picture: Marco Bahler / BFA