brings the past back to life in order to imagine the future!

Citizens of Memory' ,the new painting, brings the past back to life in order to imagine the future!

Citizens of Memory’ ,the new painting, brings the past back to life in order to imagine the future!

The small, twisting stairway at the Perimeter feels fitting for exploring an exhibition on memory’s contentiousness. ‘Citizens of Memory’ is a three-story exhibition that includes the work of seven Black artists who utilize paint to convey their memories, nostalgia, and history.

Amazing acrylic paintings

Walter Price, an artist and US Navy veteran, exhibits acrylic paintings on the first level that explore our interactions with things. In works like The Theory of Difference (2020), the formless expanses of color denoting bodies of land serve as backdrops to more recognizable forms – palm trees – evoking a hazy, oneiric state.

Cassi Namoda’s paintings

In Cassi Namoda’s paintings, objects shout their significance. For example, Feeding Woman with Red Chair (2020) is based on a 19th-century picture of a character that has virtually vanished from history: the wet nurse to Ethiopia’s Negus (King). Texture is created using dabs of paint, and solid color is applied with purpose.

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The woman’s right hand rests on the iconic red chair, which stands out as a seat of power. However, her face looks sad when she gives her left breast, her hands aren’t completely articulated, and her rotund body is still flat. This is a representation of the woman behind the throne, whose unclear historical significance is communicated through the work’s abstraction.

A recollection

With all your friends (2019) by Zimbabwean artist Kudzanai-Violet Hwami pushes the boundaries of the figurative to depict the uncertainty of recollection. A small-scale canvas group portrait resembles the format of a family snapshot, which is praised for its capacity to ‘immortalize’ moments and individuals. While the children in the foreground and center of the picture are clearly shown, the faces surrounding them are obscured by a tangle of brown and pink brushstrokes, a manifestation of the affects of memory, both temporal and physical (Hwami was born in Zimbabwe and now resides in the UK).

Emefiele’s art plays

Sail me down deep river (2020) by Ndidi Emefiele portrays a nude, dark-skinned person seated in a boat and staring attentively at something just beyond the spectator, its baby face and huge head evocative of pop surrealist Mark Ryden’s protagonists. A bird of paradise perches on one extended finger, while a tabby cat sits staring at a ghostly figure evoking Charon, the ferryman of Ancient Classical mythology, whose job it was to ferry the dead to Hades.

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Emefiele’s art plays with our understanding of cultural symbols, leaving us unsure if the cat is a terrible or good omen, and whether the bird is a foreboding portent or a symbol of peace. Despite the gloomy skies, the even darker seas remain tranquil. This isn’t a storm-tossed boat, which adds to the work’s modest but deep feeling of unease in its examination of death and mourning.



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