1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair London 2019

Booth W10 West Wing, Somerset House, The Strand, London WC2R 1LA,  3 – 6 October 2019

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Circle is pleased to present works by Tahir Karmali, Shabu Mwangi and Paul Ndema.

PAUL NDEMA, b. 1979; lives and works in Kampala, Uganda

Paul Ndema has been a practicing artist for almost two decades and is amongst Uganda’s foremost contemporary painters. Born in Mbarara, in the Western region of Uganda, he studied at the Margaret Trowell School of Industrial and Fine Art at Makerere University, graduating in 2002 with a Bachelors degree Fine Arts. Recent exhibitions include Kampala Contemporary, Circle Art Gallery, Nairobi (2016) and East African Encounters, Circle Art Gallery, Nairobi (2014). He has also shown at the Cape Town Art Fair (2016, 2015), 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair (2016) and the Kampala Art Biennale (2014).

Paul Ndema is renowned in Kampala for his distinctive paintings. His work is instantly recognisable for its use of portraiture and the irreverent subject matter. Subjects include politics, religion, cultural identity, sexuality and history within Uganda and, perhaps, the context of a greater global African society. His work exists between subtle satire and tongue-in-cheek commentary. Ndema draws no conclusions in his work. Instead, he poses questions, achieving this through a wicked sense of humor, and sensitivity to the nuances of society, past and present, matched with a high level of technical skill.

TAHIR KARMALI, b. 1987; lives and works in New York, USA

Tahir Karmali received a Masters in Digital Photography from the School of Visual Arts in NY in 2015. He has participated in numerous workshops and exhibited widely, including: Tracing Obsolescence, Apexart, New York, 2018; Immigrant Artists and the American West, Tacoma Art Museum, Washington, 2018; New Threads, Circle Art Gallery, Nairobi, 2018; Biennal Forografica Bogota, 2017, Bogota, Columbia and PAPER:work, Pioneer Works, New York, 2017. Karmali’s work has featured in the Addis Foto Fest, Lagos Photo Festival. In 2019, he was one of the artists commissioned to create work following the inaugural Open Call for The Shed Museum in New York.

“Paradise is at the feet of the mother.” – Prophet Mohamed

Karmali’s practice focuses on the transformation of objects and materials by global economic flows. He draws on his observations of these, as well as his own physical experience of moving through international borders and cultural spheres. Paradise is a new and on-going body of work in which Karmali engages with time and memory and his experience of migration. Combining screen printing and dyeing techniques, Karmali creates atmospheric compositions built up from personal photographs, which evoke the humidity and ecosystem of his mother’s memory of her native Seychelles islands. Abstract from a distance, with the image appearing only upon close inspection, the Paradise series possess a dreamlike quality, transporting the viewer to a time and place long past, both real and imaginary.

SHABU MWANGI, b. 1985; lives and works in Nairobi, Kenya

Shabu Mwangi was born in 1985 and began practicing art in 2003. He lives and works in Mukuru slum where he established the Wajukuu Art Project with a deep conviction that his work could highlight the lives of the disadvantaged minorities in his community. He has collaborated on community initiatives with organizations including Art2be and Hope Worldwide. In 2017 he was the artist in residence at S27 Kunst Und Bildung, Berlin, 2017. His previous exhibitions include: Stateless, a solo exhibition at Circle Art Gallery in 2017; Pop-Up Africa, GAFRA, London, 2017; Out of the Slum, Essen, Germany, 2012 and various other group and solo exhibitions in Nairobi. His work has been shown at 1:54 previously and at AKAA Paris in 2016 and 2017, and the Cape Town Art Fair 2018.

Mwangi’s work focuses on structural violence in society, notions of rootlessness and alienation, particularly the trauma of forced migration, and the reality of finding oneself excluded from a society’s vision of itself. His new works – emotionally charged portraits – consider identity, and the constant struggle of negotiating one’s perception of self against socially established and enforced collective identities. Mwangi’s work studies various forms of violence arising from social, economic and political divisions. He looks at our interaction with one another and our situation and the motivation behind action taken during volatile political periods.