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March Lineup: Larry Amponsah and Lulama Mlambo Wolf at THE BREEDER Gallery, Athens

March Lineup: Larry Amponsah and Lulama Mlambo Wolf at THE BREEDER Gallery, Athens

LARRY AMPONSAH – GENESIS: The Plan & The Promise

17 Μarch – 9 April 2022

Larry Amponsah, Only Good Things Grow Around Nana, 2021, acrylic paint, direct print & oil pastels on canvas, 200 x 240 cm. © Larry Amponsah.

The Breeder is pleased to present “Genesis: The Plan & The Promise”, Larry Amponsah’s first exhibition in Athens, which furthers the artist’s investigation of the politics and modes of image-making.

At the centre of this presentation lies a new series of large-scale collage paintings, which takes as a starting point summoned images from popular magazines like Vogue, Vanity Fair and Bazaar. Cutting into the hundreds of stereotyped images of “White beauty” and dominant ideas of representation, Amponsah then morphs the original pictures into a series of compelling portraits of Black people that reference his Ghanaian heritage and the greater global Black narratives. For the paintings presented here, Amponsah used a selection of these miniature collages, deploying a succession of creative strategies on them including digital manipulations, physical collage, new printing techniques and painting.

The canvases are layered with various details which are either collaged or directly drawn onto the surface, adding depth and materiality to the constructed floral environments and enriching the narratives of their inhabitants. Fruits, plants, vegetables and flowers are carefully transplanted into each work attempting to visually recreate the artist’s imagined idea of his protagonists’ psychological landscape and internal workings. The result is a new series of portraits, whose dynamic and fluid compositions invite the viewers to become active participants in the narrative surrounding the black body and the politics of representation. Amponsah employs here various visual elements, in an attempt to invent formulas that try to tackle complex questions of identity and what it means to live in a black body today.

Larry Amponsah leading a collage workshop

Works like “Must It Take 19 Books and A Clock?” introduce Amponsah’s vision of “true representations of contemporary Blackness that challenge the global stereotypical ideologies historically associated with people of African origin”. With references to materiality, identity and culture, they display a rich community of people that conjures ideas of knowledge, independence, fluidity and complexity.

With these beautifully crafted portraits, Amponsah ultimately pushes the boundaries of his medium, painting, through a horticultural approach of planting, which is full of life and vitality, hope and possibilities whilst confronting some of the unresolved key questions on the language of painting, and the possibilities of representation in the history of art.


LULAMA MLAMBO WOLF – The Right at Ease

17 Μarch – 9 April 2022

Lulama Mlambo Wolf , The Closer – The Less We Know, 2021, acrylic & sand on canvas, 132 x 92 cm, © Lulama Mlambo Wolf

The Breeder is pleased to present “The Right at Ease”, Lulama Mlambo Wolf’s’s first exhibition in Athens, which furthers Wolf’s exploration around black identity and themes like rest and self care.

“My work carries my spirit before it carries a message. My intuition plays a vital role in the direction I go and then I compartmentalise with what I prioritise. I represent different parts of myself including; abstraction, curiosity, mythology, spirituality and introspection. Blackness is innate in my work because it is created by a black woman despite the medium or language it speaks. It is vital because proof of existence is rare in the black community and information is shared but isn’t sustained in ways that are known to us right now. I express my yearning for answers and clarity in ways that make my blackness clear even when the work is abstract. My practice embodies subtlety in a form of texture and expression, a curious mix of ambiguity and curiosity. I experiment with different textures and moulds that are formed from the earth.”

Lulama Wolf’s practice is formulated by lines that rise and fall smoothly to create the bodies in space – bending, contorting, carrying, standing, and moving.Wolf’s depicted bodies indicate a world beyond themselves and signal towards broader themes and processes. Traversing both the personal and the political,the Johannesburg-based artist engages themes of African spirituality within a contemporary context and merges that with colour theory influenced by traditional South African, vernacular architecture and indigenous rock art. In addition to her studio practice, Wolf is known for her profound interest in designand fields that weave themselves into her sensibility of creating meticulously bold yet minimal paintings.

See Also

“Conversations with yourself” by Lulama Mlambo Wolf (left). Lulama Mlambo Wolf (right).

Within her artistic practice, Wolf is influenced by both spiritual and art historical forerunners, citing the late Zulu diviner and author, Vusamazulu Credo Mutwa,and South African visual artists, Helen Sebidi and Ernest Mancoba, as key influences. The effect of Mancoba’s lucid abstraction and Sebidi’s intricate storytelling are visible in her work as demonstrated in the painting.

For her latest body of work, Wolf focuses on rest as a narrative spine around which her figures bend themselves. She considers rest as a way to think through practices of care, taking care of oneself and taking care of each other, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. The work seeks to reimagine varying possibilities of how rest is conceived – an impulse brought on by the slower pace as a result of the global pandemic – and pays attention to a new grammar of deep rest and deep care. The works presented here depict the freedom of exploring how ease is an influence in pre-colonial experiences and suggest yearnings for rest as a necessity as opposed to rest as a means to an end.

The presentation is introduced by ‘An Ode to Mancoba’, a visual articulation that honours Wolf’s favourite artist – Ernest Mancoba. Mancoba was a South African avant-garde sculptor and artist whose work took on various aesthetic forms as he freed himself from the constraints of traditional art. He further went on to legitimise Africa’s contribution to Modernity and the folkloric right to explore his own form. His contribution to African-related Modernity is a part of Wolf’s form of expression as she takes on a different perspective in contemporary art.

In Wolf’s series of works, nostalgia, culture and themes of rest are seen in paintings like ‘Land Patterns’ where lines take shape in tribute to fluidity while deciding firmly on allowing imagination and hypervisibility to take centre stage.

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