A Spectacular Now

Circle Art Gallery, 30 January – 16 February 2019

Evans Mbugua and Dennis Osadebe

A Spectacular Now is an invitation to delight in the present and find pleasure in the everyday. Key to the work of these artists is optimism and an insistence on drawing happiness from the vicissitudes of daily life, to indulge in the fleeting moments of joy and the infinite possibilities that the future holds. There’s a lightheartedness that unites the work of these two artists.

Evans Mbugua’s exuberant portraits embrace and aspire to the rhythms of daily life that inform them. The subjects appear as an abundance of coloured dots on sheets of Perspex which, once laid on top of each other, resolve into fine-grained visions of figures caught in moments of bliss, their body language suggesting an openness to the world around them. Osadebe’s characters are masked which gives rise to a cheeky tension in the play between the knowable, familiar interior scenes in which they’re depicted and the anonymous figures. The mask alludes to traditional cultural practices in his native Nigeria but the settings and accouterments clearly belong to the present time. The enforced anonymity of his subjects leaves room to imagine a multitude of personas for them. The spaces they inhabit, in turn suggest that they belong to a cosmopolitan society, from whose swirl their identities emerge.

Evans Mbugua (Kenyan, b. 1979)

Evans Mbugua is a visual artist and a designer. Mbugua was born in Nairobi, and lives and works in Paris, both modern and cosmopolitan cities that are characterized by the cultural mix of diverse populations. Mbugua’s works are held in public and private collections in Europe, Africa and North America. He has participated in several international group and solo exhibitions. His latest solo shows include Dialogue (2017), Gallery of African Art (GAFRA), London; Highlife (2017), Galerie Art-Z, Paris, Evans Mbugua (2016) at Ellia Art Gallery, Paris and most recently, Recall, at Art-Z in Paris. Mbugua has also shown his work at international art fairs including 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair in London, AKAA in Paris, and ART X Lagos.

Dennis Osadebe (Nigerian, b. 1991)

Dennis Osadebe obtained a BSc in Business and Management from Queen Mary University of London and a MSc. in Innovation and Entrepreneurship from the University of Warwick, Coventry. He has exhibited widely since his relocation to Lagos in 2013 and has also collaborated with international brands such as Diesel. He has participated in group and solo exhibitions at Art Twenty One, Rele Gallery, and Arthouse Contemporary in Lagos, Nigeria. Internationally, he has shown his work at the London Illustration Fair in 2017, the FNB Jo’burg Art Fair in 2017, The Other Art Fair, NY, 2017 & 2018. In January 2019 Osadebe had a solo exhibition, Portrait of a Bright Generation, at Galerie Liusa Wang in Paris.