Sean Kelly is delighted to announce Natural Beauty, a solo-exhibition of new work by Nigerian- American, Brooklyn-based artist Anthony Akinbola. This presentation, occupying the front and lower galleries, includes the artist’s signature Camouflage paintings, single and multi-panel works that utilize the ubiquitous du-rag as their primary material. Universally available and possessed of significant cultural context, the du-rag represents for Akinbola a readymade object that engages the conceptual strategies of Marcel Duchamp and other significant artistic predecessors. The opening reception will take place on Wednesday, September 7, from 6-8 pm. The artist will be present.
Born in Columbia, Missouri, Anthony Akinbola, is a first-generation American raised by Nigerian parents in the United States and Nigeria. His layered, richly coloured compositions celebrate and signify the distinct cultures that shape his identity. In the front gallery, an array of Camouflage paintings explore the du-rag as both a material for art-making and as commentary on larger issues of identity, respectability, and commodification of African American culture. The subtle variations in colour throughout the works were often subject to supply chain availability. Individual canvasses range from subtle variations on a single, subtle tone, to richly contrasting fields of colour, evoking artists as varied as Morris Louis and Ad Reinhardt.
In the lower gallery, Akinbola will install a single, multi-panel work positioned in dialogue with a taxidermized goat, an action that both pays homage to Robert Rauschenberg’s revolutionary Combine, Monogram, 1955-59—which featured a stuffed Angora goat, engulfed in a rubber tire, standing on a painting—and functions for the artist as a conceptual self-portrait. In Nigeria, goats hold a significant place in the culture and are commonly used for their hides, meat and in religious festivals for ritual sacrifice. There is a ubiquitous fetish associated with goats and their totemic significance. Throughout his work Akinbola unpacks the rituals and histories connecting Africa and America, addressing the power of fetishization around cultural objects. From the press release.