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Da questo novembre al 3 febbraio 2019, la National Portrait Gallery ospita la sua ultima mostra The Beautyful Ones, una serie di alcune delle opere più importanti dell'artista nigeriana Njideka Akunyili Crosby.


Exhibit room - Njideka Akunyili Crosby - National Portrait Gallery

Ispirata al romanzo ghanese The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born dello scrittore ghanese Ayi Kwei Armah, la serie ritrae i fratelli di Crosby in posa o catturati in scene domestiche, circondati da interni tipici nigeriani che si arricchiscono di elementi “estranei” appartenenti alla cultura occidentale o a una nuova e poliedrica tradizione locale. Questa serie di opere è dedicata ad una nuova generazione, nella speranza che questa generazione possa vivere le sue potenzialità, avere l’opportunità di svilupparsi in una società più aperta e multietnica, una possibilità che la generazione dei suoi genitori non aveva avuto.

Nata nel 1983 a Enugu, in Nigeria, Crosby si è trasferita a Lagos all'età di 10 anni, dove è rimasta per sei anni fino a quando si è trasferita negli Stati Uniti dopo che sua madre vinse la lotteria della green card americana. Un anno dopo, Crosby tornò in Nigeria per far parte del Servizio Nazionale e fu in questa occasione che si rese conto di quanto la sua patria fosse cambiata e di quanti aspetti di culture diverse si erano fusi nella tradizione locale, creando una società nuova, multiculturale e più globale.

L'influenza del colonialismo britannico con i suoi costumi e le sue tradizioni insieme alla cultura pop americana con i suoi miti e status symbol aveva generato la nascita di nuovi comportamenti sociali; gli adolescenti avevano iniziato a ballare, posare, vestirsi e agire in modo diverso. Allo stesso modo, i loro sogni e le loro aspirazioni erano cambiati. Troviamo un grande esempio nel ritratto di suo fratello della Serie #2 dove uno dei suoi sei fratelli è ritratto in un abito nigeriano in stile militare, ma anche con un paio di mocassini neri con calze bianche, con un chiaro riferimento a Michael Jackson. Così come il suo modo di posare ci ricorda i movimenti tipici che l'intera generazione stava emulando all'epoca. Tra le fotografie sullo sfondo, la cantante nigeriana Chtis Okotie indossa una giacca rossa, che ci riporta alle immagini del video "Thriller".


Series #2 - Njideka Akunyili Crosby - National Portrait Gallery - Acrilico, matita colorata e transfer su carta, 2018

L'interesse di Crosby per questo complesso flusso di eventi sociali e culturali si è trasformato nello sviluppo di un meticoloso processo artistico nelle sue opere, che include trasferimenti fotografici, pittura, collage, disegno a matita, polvere di marmo e tessuti. Un processo che ha sviluppato durante gli studi alla Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts e poi alla Yale University School of Art, dove ha conseguito un master.

Esiste sempre un accurato processo di ricerca dietro ogni fotografia inclusa nelle opere dell’artista; la loro composizione ambigua e anche la logica del modo in cui Crosby le inserisce nel collage, possono riflettere il concetto stesso delle sue opere, mescolando e sovrapponendo strati aggiuntivi. Celebrità, politici, modelli, attori, cantanti, notizie da tutto il mondo, sono tutti riuniti in una composizione profondamente strutturata.

Indubbiamente, quando guardiamo i suoi dipinti, i riferimenti africani e soprattutto nigeriani sono piuttosto evidenti. Tuttavia, qualcosa ci distoglie dalla composizione e contemporaneamente ci collega a qualcos'altro.

Entrando nella sala espositiva, la combinazione di texture e patterns trascina lo spettatore nell'intimità delle scene di vita quotidiana dell’infanzia e dell’adolescenza dell’artista in Nigeria, ma anche dell'età adulta negli Stati Uniti. Dopo il primo impatto lo spettatore è dolcemente condotto in un'attenta osservazione dell'immagine, dove dettagli provenienti da culture diverse si fondono creando un equilibrio armonioso tra colori, forme e composizione. La serie #7 mostra una giovane ragazza in una scena di strada, in piedi con le braccia incrociate circondata da auto gialle, che ricordano il colore del suo vestito. Questo ritratto è uno dei pochi ambientati all'esterno, in quanto di solito sono tutti raffiguranti scene domestiche.


Series #7 - Njideka Akunyili Crosby - National Portrait Gallery - Acrilico, matita colorata e transfer su carta, 2018

In una stanza separata possiamo trovare un altro quadro che in realtà non appartiene alla serie, che si chiama Something Split and New, ispirato al saggio scritto dallo scrittore keniota Ngugi Wa Thiong'o, Something Torn and New: An African Renaissance 2009, sulle conseguenze del colonialismo e sull'importante ruolo delle lingue native per la memoria africana. Il dipinto raffigura una scena ispirata all'epoca in cui Crosby ha presentato il marito alla sua famiglia in Nigeria.


Something Split and New - Njideka Akunyili Crosby - National Portrait Gallery - Acrilico, carboncino, pastello, matita colorata, collage e transfer su carta, 2013

Esporre opere d'arte che incarnano non solo l'integrazione di due culture, ma anche la nascita di un nuovo patrimonio arricchito, come conseguenza del colonialismo, della migrazione e dell'integrazione, è di fondamentale importanza nel clima attuale.

In un momento così delicato e controverso per vari paesi che si trovano ad affrontare politiche migratorie rigorose, tra cui l'Inghilterra con le imminenti fasi finali del Brexit, il lavoro di Crosby diventa ancora più vitale e significativo per riflettere sul concetto di identità nell'epoca attuale.


“The Beautyful Ones” - Njideka Akunyili Crosby

17 novembre 2018 - 3 febbraio 2019 Stanza 41 & 41a, piano 0

National Portrait Gallery, St Martin's Place, London, WC2H 0HE

Orario di apertura: 10.00 - 18.00

Ingresso libero


- Carolina Rapezzi







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From this November 'till February 3rd 2019, the National Portrait Gallery sees its latest exhibition The Beautyful Ones, a series of some of the most relevant artworks by the Nigerian artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby.


Exhibit room - Njideka Akunyili Crosby - National Portrait Gallery

Inspired by the Ghanaian novel The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born by the Ghanaian writer Ayi Kwei Armah, the series depicts Crosby’s siblings either posing or caught in domestic scenes, surrounded by typical Nigerian interiors that have been enriched with ‘extraneous’ elements belonging to either the western culture or to a new multifaceted local tradition. This ongoing series is dedicated to a new generation and the hope for this generation to live its potential, have possibilities to develop in a more open and multi-ethnic society; a possibility that her parents' generation didn't have.

Born in 1983 in Enugu, Nigeria, Crosby moved to Lagos at the age of 10 where she stayed for six years until she moved to the United States after her mother won the US green card lottery. One year after, Crosby moved back to Nigeria to serve the National Service and it was in this occasion that she realized how much her motherland had changed and how many aspects from different cultures had merged into the local tradition, creating a new, multicultural and more global society.

The influence of British colonialism with its customs and traditions along with the American pop culture with its myths and status symbols have generated the naissance of new social behaviours; Teenagers began dancing, posing, dressing and acting differently. Similarly, their dreams and aspirations changed. We find a great example in the portrait of her brother Series #2 where one of her six siblings is portrayed in a Nigerian military style outfit but also wearing a pair of black loafers with white socks, as clear reference to Michael Jackson. As well as the way he poses reminds us about the typical movements that the entire generation was emulating at the time. Among the photographs in the background, the Nigerian singer Chtis Okotie is wearing a red jacket, that brings us back to the images in the video "Thriller".


Series #2 - Njideka Akunyili Crosby - National Portrait Gallery - Acrylic, colour pencil and transfers on paper, 2018

Crosby’s interest in this complex flux of social and cultural events has turned into the development of a meticulous artistic process in her artworks, which includes photographic transfers, paint, collage, pencil drawing, marble dust and fabrics. A process that she has developed during her studies at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and then at the Yale University School of Art, where she got a Master of Fine Arts degree.

Carefully and considerably chosen, there is always a thorough process of research behind each photograph included in her artworks. Their own ambiguous composition and also the logic behind the way Crosby inserts them in the collage, can reflect the concept itself of her works, mixing and overlapping additional layers. Celebrities, politicians, models, actors, singers, news from around the world, they are all put together in a profoundly structured composition.

Undoubtedly, when we look at her paintings the African and particularly Nigerian references are rather evident. However, something diverts us from it and connects us to something else simultaneously.

Upon entering the exhibition room, the combination of textures and patterns drag the audience into the intimacy of daily life scenes both part of the artist’s childhood and adolescence in Nigeria, but also belonging to her adulthood in the USA.

After the first impact the audience is gently led into an attentive image observation, where details from different cultures come together creating a harmonious balance between colours, shapes and composition. Series #7 shows a young girl in a street scene, standing with her arms crossed surrounded by yellow cars, recalling the colour of her dress. This portrait is one of the few ones in exterior, as usually they are all depicting domestic scenes.


Series #7 - Njideka Akunyili Crosby - National Portrait Gallery - Acrylic, colour pencil and transfers on paper, 2018

In a separate room we can find another painting that actually doesn’t belong to the series, which is called Something Split and New, inspired by the essay written by the Kenyan writer Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, Something Torn and New: An African Renaissance 2009, about the consequences of colonialism and the important role of native languages for the African memory. The painting depicts a scene inspired by the time when Crosby introduced her husband to her family in Nigeria.


Something Split and New - Njideka Akunyili Crosby

The importance of exhibiting artworks embodying not only the integration of two cultures, but also showing the birth of a new, enriched heritage as consequence of colonialism, migration and integration, is fundamental in today’s climate.

In such a delicate and controversial moment for various countries facing strict migration’s policies, including England with the imminent Brexit final steps, Crosby's work becomes even more vital and significant to reflect on the concept of identity in the current era.

The Beautyful Ones - Njideka Akunyili Crosby

17 November 2018 - 3 February 2019 Room 41 & 41a, Floor 0 National Portrait Gallery, St Martin's Place, London, WC2H 0HE

Open daily: 10.00 - 18.00

Free entrance https://www.npg.org.uk/whatson/display/2018/njideka-akunyili-crosby


- Carolina Rapezzi


Exhibit room - Njideka Akunyili Crosby - National Portrait Gallery





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In 2019, the centenary of the foundation of the German school of art Bauhaus will be celebrated, a milestone that led to the birth of the modern movement in the history of the arts.


1926 Bauhaus Building, Dessau, architect Walter Gropius, southwest view - Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau (Besitz Scan) (I 36041/1-2) / © (Consemüller, Erich) Consemüller, Stephan (Eigentum Original Vintage Print)

The most important school of architecture, art and design in Germany, which gave rise to a movement of avant-garde and innovation, and whose teachings are still today a source of inspiration, took its first steps in the German city of Weimar from 1919, the date of its foundation, to 1925. Later, it moved to Dessau, until 1932 and then to Berlin until its final closure, a year later, due to the advent of Nazism. Bringing together the teaching of the various arts, sculpture, architecture, decoration, but also craftsmanship and technology under the wing of design: this was in principle, the fundamental aim of the school.

One hundred years after its foundation, we’re ready to relive the magic atmosphere of Bauhaus, characterized by essentiality and rationalism: in fact, work is underway on the preparation and renewal for the hundredth anniversary, and the whole Germany is trembling with excitement. Many exhibitions, congresses, events are in program to celebrate the importance of the school in the art, and the personalities who taught there. The new year will begin with the opening festival that will be in Berlin at the Akademie der Kunste from 16 to 24 January under Bettina Wagner-Bergelt’s artistic direction.


Dessau Bauhausköpfe (aus dem Bauhaus-Fotoalbum von Fritz Schreiber) - Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau

The three festival, which will take place in throughout the year 2019, will present in a contemporary way the philosophy of the Bauhaus of the past. The first of the three, that will be from 20 to 24 March is the Festival School Fundamental, a festival of learning, which will tell the methods of teaching. From 31 May to 2 June, the Festival Architecture Radical will take place, set in Walter Gropius’ historic work office, as a symbol of social change. From 11 to 15 September, the Festival Stage Total will take place, where the performance of Wassily Kandinsky’s Violet will be staged: traditional theatre is revisited in an innovative way with new techniques of expression.

2019 will be also the year in which two new museum will be created: on 6 April the Bauhaus Museum in Weimar will open, with Heike Hanada’s project, while on 8 September the new Bauhaus Museum in Dessau will open, housing the collection of the Bauhaus Foundation designed by Gonzalez Hinz Zabala.

For the complete program of the events, you can download the document in pdf format at the link: https://www.bauhaus-dessau.de/dl/427703c01d07142faf3374333ea7a6ba/SBD_Bauhaus_Centenary_2019.pdf


Bauhausgebäude DessauWalter Gropius (1925–26), Westseite - Tadashi Okochi © Pen Magazine, 2010, Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau

In the celebration of the 100th anniversary of Bauhaus, great importance will also be given to the role of the female figure: women, at that time in Germany, lived in difficult years, where gender equality was an achievement far away, even if the founder of the school Walter Gropius had declared that there should be “no difference between the most beautiful and the strongest sex”. Many women had applied to enrol in the school, but the access to the courses was denied to the most of them, and then they were bound to the weaving workshop. Among these, was Anni Albers, who found her own form of expression in weaving: this discipline allowed her to become a talented textile designer. An exhibition is dedicated to her works at the Tate Modern, in London, where there are her original looms, her revolutionary ideas, her projects in the world of design, as she reinvented the traditional hand weaving in a modern key: an opportunity not to be missed to learn more about the enormous contribution made by the pioneering textile artist. The exhibition will be open until January 2019.


Marcel Breuer with his Harem (from l. to r.: Marcel B

Not only: the project The Hidden Treasures Bauhaus Dessau was born. With this project, the typefaces used by the great masters were found and renewed. The Bauhaus Dessau Foundation, in collaboration with Adobe, has decided to digitize and give a new imprint to five typographic projects, using the Adobe Illustrator CC program. The first one, round and minimalist, was designed by Joost Schmidt and it’s called Joschmi; the second, called Xants, is a neoclassical font, and it was recreated by Xanti Schawinsky. And then, there is the Carl Marx font, in both Regular and Bold versions by Carl Marx, the Alfarn font by Alfred Arndt, and the Reross font, in both Quadratic and Rectangular versions by Reinhold Rossig. You can download the font sets at this link: https://fonts.adobe.com/fonts/hidden-treasures?mv=other&ref=tk.com&sdid=S36FMY6Y . For more information, just visit the website dedicated to the initiative: https://adobehiddentreasures.com/ .


- Giulia Zamponi


Source: adobehiddentreasures.com




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