september, 2022

29sepAll Day26novPERSPECTIVES BY WANGARI MATHENGE

Event Details

We are delighted to announce Perspectives, the first solo show by Wangari Mathenge in Italy.

The Kenya-born artist creates powerful paintings confronting issues regarding the visibility of the black female in the context of both the traditional African patriarchal society and the Diaspora.

In her work, Mathenge uses loose, expressive, bright saturated brushstrokes to present intimate images of figures in domestic spaces. Her subjects, mostly women, are surrounded by everyday objects that act as markers of time, location and culture. The canvases display images of the artist herself and relatives in poses of relax or contemplation, evoking a sense of leisure and yet also defiance: they are captured in ordinary moments, often gazing at the viewer with great self-possession, sprawled across the sofa and lost in thought. Family pictures pinpoint individual narratives, while the brightly patterned East African Kanga fabric and the recurring statuette of a Masai celebrate a wider inheritance.

Mathenge’s works privilege introspection and a visceral cohabitation with her subjects. The exhibition displays twelve works and each one extends a very private conversation into a public sphere, all the while maintaining a deeply intimate connection. The artist’s dialogue is one of personal strength, humility, and majesty. Each of her figures are characters for whom the experience of being alive is a fabulous tapestry of possibility, yet the traces of struggle are evident in their body language and expression.

The show is titled Perspectives and refers to a series of works that deal with two divergent meanings associated with the word. Perspective can refer to one’s point of view, suggesting that the subjects bring with them experiences and ideas shaped by their environment and conditioning the way they see things or meanings they are capable of attributing to experiences. Alternatively, “perspective” can also refer to the angle in which the viewer witnesses a scene due to their vantage point. The broader context points to the fact that the viewer contributes to their experiencing of a scene. Moreover a scene captured within a frame necessarily omits what lies beyond it and this act can either be intentional or unintentional – limits are placed on what the physical eye or a camera can perceive and what it is attracted to in a given moment.

Wangari Mathenge (*Nairobi, Kenya 1973) grew up in London and Nairobi, then moved to the USA to study law. She holds degrees from Howard University and Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, DC and an MFA in Painting and Drawing from the School of The Art Institute of Chicago, IL (2021).

Mathenge’s first solo project, Aura of Quiet, was presented at Roberts Projects, Los Angeles in 2019. Other recent exhibitions include: You are here at Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, London (2021) The Expats Studies: Impressions on Paper at The Sacristy Gallery, Chicago (2021) as well as Witness: Afro Perspectives from the Jorge M. Pérez Collection, El Espacio 23, Miami (2020 – 21) and Stretching the Body at Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin, in the Fall of 2021.

Mathenge was commissioned by The New York Times Style Magazine to make work for their 2021 Culture issue. She has also been featured in publications including Artforum, The Financial Times and Artsy. Collections include Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis, The Rubell Family Collection, Miami and Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin. Mathenge lives and works in Chicago.

*Siamo lieti di annunciare Perspectives, prima personale in Italia della pittrice Wangari Mathenge. Nata in Kenya, cresciuta tra Nairobi e Londra e poi trasferita per motivi di studio negli Stati Uniti, Mathenge interpreta e rivela nelle sue potenti tele di grandi dimensioni la molteplicità della sua identità e della sua memoria a partire dalla tradizione e cultura africana e della diaspora.

Nelle sue opere, Mathenge utilizza pennellate fluide, espressive e luminose, colori audaci e motivi vivaci per presentare istantanee intime di figure in spazi e momenti domestici e familiari. I protagonisti dei suoi quadri – soprattutto donne – sono spesso circondati da oggetti personali e quotidiani, simboli e marchi del tempo, del luogo e della sua cultura.

Perspectives comprende una serie di opere con le quali Mathenge riflette su questo termine mettendo al centro se stessa: le sue mani, il volto, il corpo, il suo giardino, gli abiti che indossa, le piccole cose di ogni giorno: “prospettiva” dalla parte dei soggetti ritratti, del loro ambiente e della loro tradizione ma, anche, come punto di vista dello spettatore, in un dialogo condiviso e aperto che mette in discussione persino la “prospettiva” della stessa artista. Scorci, dettagli, movenze, abbandoni privati e intimi che invitano sempre all’introspezione e alla riflessione aprendosi all’incontro con l’altro.

Wangari Mathenge (1973) è nata a Nairobi, in Kenya, ha abitato per un periodo a Londra con la famiglia d’origine e attualmente vive a Chicago. Per studiare diritto si è trasferita negli Stati Uniti, dove si è laureata al Georgetown University Law Center di Washington DC per poi lavorare in campo giuridico. In seguito ha deciso di abbandonare la professione e dedicarsi completamente all’arte e alla pittura che ha studiato e perfezionato; nel 2021 ha conseguito un MFA in Pittura e Disegno presso l’Art Institute di Chicago.

Il primo progetto personale di Mathenge, Aura of Quiet, è stato presentato presso Roberts Projects a Los Angeles nel 2019. Altre mostre recenti: You are here alla Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, Londra (2021); The Expats Studies: Impressions on Paper presso The Sacristy Gallery, Chicago (2021); Gaabo Motho, Sakhile & Me, Francoforte (2021) e Witness: Afro Perspectives from the Jorge M. Pérez Collection, El Espacio 23, Miami (2020 – 21). In Italia, con una sua opera ha partecipato alla mostra collettiva Stretching the Body, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Torino (2021 – 22).

The Expats e The Ascendants sono le due serie di opere che finora hanno costituito il nucleo della sua pratica. The Expats nasce da una considerazione dell’artista: l’uso della denominazione “espatriati” di solito si riferisce esclusivamente ai cittadini bianchi che vivono all’estero, mentre tutti gli altri vengono denominati “migranti”. Per sottolineare ed attaccare questo diverso standard, Mathenge è partita dall’esperienza di vita della sua famiglia nel Regno Unito negli anni Settanta, dove il padre ha lavorato per conto del Segretariato del Commonwealth. The Ascendants esamina cosa significhi vivere in relazione con la cultura africana e con l’eredità del colonialismo.

Nel 2021 Mathenge è stata incaricata dal New York Times Style Magazine di realizzare un’opera per il numero speciale dedicato alla cultura. Il suo lavoro è stato recensito in pubblicazioni come Artforum, The Financial Times, The Sunday Times e Artsy. Tra le collezioni figurano il Weisman Art Museum (Minneapolis), la Rubell Family Collection (Miami) e la Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo di Torino.

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Time

September 29 (Thursday) - November 26 (Saturday)

Location

MONICA DE CARDENAS

Via Francesco Viganò 4 20124 Milano

Organizer

MONICA DE CARDENAS Via Francesco Viganò 4 20124 Milano

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