Photo Oxford: a Celebration of Women and Photography in Pictures, and Art News of the Week 12 – 18 October 2020

Triple Self-Portrait, solarised 1933. Photo: Helen Muspratt
Triple Self-Portrait, solarised 1933. Photo: Helen Muspratt

Ben Enwonwu, was a Nigerian painter and sculptor, an international star in the 1960s, and his art seems to be making a comeback. Howardena Pindell childhood memory is now the starting point for “Rope/Fire/Water”, her first video in 25 years that traces the history of violence against African Americans in the United States. From October 16th the third Photo Oxford Festival will be held, the theme of the festival is Women and Photography – Ways of Seeing and Being Seen.

Nigerian Artist Ben Enwonwu art is making a comeback

October 15, 2020 – Via Artnet News

Ben Enwonwu. photo: Eliot Elisofon. Photo: Courtesy of the Ben Enwonwu Foundation

Ben Enwonwu, was a Nigerian painter and sculptor (1917 – 1994) and possibly one of the most influential African artists of the 20th century. Enwonwu was an international star in the 1960s and his art seems to be making a comeback. The market is watching the stellar sales at auctions that signal a turning point for the visibility of this pioneer of African modernism.

He was one of the first African artists to gain critical acclaim and to have his work exhibited in Europe and the United States. The international media have been celebrating Enwonwu since 1950 as “Africa’s greatest artist”. He even has a crater on the planet Mercury named after him. His fame was used to build support for the black nationalist movement around the world.

Enwonwu’s pioneering career paved the way for greater visibility of modern African art. His name has long been known in Nigeria and in African artistic circles. However, it is only three years since Enwonwu, who is often called the father of African modernism, was rediscovered outside of Africa.

In this year’s digital edition of Frieze Masters, the deceased artist is on display at the Lagos-based Ko art gallery, which was founded this year by Indian-born collector Kavita Chellaram. Within the exhibition are twelve works by Enwonwu, all executed between 1940 and 1980, which include gouache, wood, oil, and bronze sculptures.

“Enwonwu was widely collected until his death and then there was a lull until we put him in our first auction in 2007. Then there was the Bonhams sale in 2013, and ever since his work has gone up in value due to high demand. Through auctions, exhibitions, and private sales, Enwonwu has steadily earned his rightful place in African art history. Now we need more research, documentation, and representation of his work at institutions worldwide.” Chellaram told Artnet News.

Enwonwu believed during his life that modern Nigeria should be rooted in its own heritage and culture. He based his art on visual images and systems of representation of experience while growing up in Onitsha, a cosmopolitan market town that was a center of indigenous Igbo culture and British colonial rule. By 1950, his artwork had been exhibited in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the United States.

“Enwonwu was probably the first African artist to gain international acclaim and really laid the groundwork for contemporary African art. He was discussing and debating what it means to be an ‘African artist,’ and what is ‘contemporary African art’-discussions that continue to the present day.” said Hannah O’Leary, head of Sotheby’s African art department.

At 77, Howardena Pindell exorcises chilling memories from childhood

Oct. 16, 2020 – Via The New York Times

Howardena Pindell at her home studio in Inwood, Manhattan. Photo: Devin Oktar Yalkin for The New York Times

Howardena Pindell is an American painter born in Philadelphia in 1943. Her work is often political, addressing such themes as racism, feminism, violence, slavery, and exploitation. Pindell is known for the wide variety of techniques and materials used in her work. Where she knows how to explore with structures, textures, and colors.

Her childhood memory is now the starting point for “Rope/Fire/Water”, her first video in 25 years, commissioned by the Shed and that traces the history of violence against African Americans in the United States. On October 16, an exhibition of the same name will open to the public at the Shed, New York’s famous cultural center.

Pindell will also present on this occasion five new paintings and 10 old ones, including a piece that has never been shown publicly. Although New York has been Ms. Pindell’s home since 1993, the presentation at the Shed is her first solo exhibition there. When asked about this exhibition Pindell reflected “This show is kind of a culmination of everything.”

Her parents nurtured an early interest in art by taking her to meet artists and visit museums. When she grew up, they supported her while she studied for a BA from Boston University (1961-65) and an MA from Yale (1965-67). Pindell has done hundreds of paintings and drawings, but only three videos in over half a century as an artist.

However, one of those videos “Free, White and 21” from 1980 is perhaps his best-known work. The video shows Pindell relating a litany of racist experiences, from being tied to a bed by a kindergarten teacher to discrimination in applying for a job. Pindell was the only person of color among the 20 co-founding members of A.I.R. in 1972, the first non-profit, artist-run women’s gallery in the United States. She later mentioned in conversations with her colleagues the injustices she faced as a black woman.

In the video “Rope/Fire/Water” Pindell narrates the details while the screen remains black, punctuated by historical photographs and statistics in white text. A metronome ticks along, suggesting that when it comes to fighting racism, we are working against the clock.

“This is an emotionally charged show, but I hope people are able to see the beauty of her practice because it’s such an important part of what she does. She is this activist, but she also has this gorgeous, canvas-producing side that I felt needed to be shown in the same context.” said Adeze Wilford, assistant curator at the Shed and organizer of the exhibition.

Photo Oxford: a celebration of women and photography in pictures

Oct. 14, 2020 – Via Photo Oxford Festival

Lilly and Waltraud, from the series All This Love. Photo: Mirja Maria Thiel

From October 16th the third Photo Oxford Festival will be held. This time the theme of the festival will be dedicated to the feminine, with the theme Women and Photography – Ways of Seeing and Being Seen. Exhibitions and events throughout the city will explore the achievements and challenges of women behind as well as in front of the lens.

They will include women as photographers, collectors, and curators. “Photo Oxford: a celebration of women and photography in pictures” will take place from October 16 to November 16, 2020 at various open spaces in Oxford, UK.

Photo Oxford is a charity that organizes exhibitions and events in collaboration with local, national, and international partners. Founded by local photojournalist, Robin Laurance, Photo Oxford was established to bring internationally acclaimed photography and photographic debate to the city of Oxford. It seeks to showcase photographic excellence to the region, cultivate talent, develop new audiences, and promote investment within the sector.

In 2020 it will be 100 years since the first woman graduated from Oxford University. It is therefore an ideal time and place to celebrate women and their diverse roles in international photography. This third Oxford Photography Festival is a celebration of women as photographers, critics, publishers, and photographic artists.

Although photography is perceived as a male-dominated field, like many of the creative arts, history shows something different. Because certain women from the upper and middle classes in the late nineteenth century experimented with photography as a tool for documentation as well as artistic self-expression.

At the same time, photographic studios employed working-class women to help in a variety of jobs. As photography became widely accessible in the 20th century, women became increasingly involved in creating photographs: both in front of and behind the lens.

While the theme of Photo Oxford 2020 is Women and Photography: Ways of Seeing and Being Seen, being seen is the greatest challenge women have faced since the beginning of photography.

One of the events of the festival is the online talk “My Photo Oxford The First Women of Photography 1839-1860”. This event, developed in collaboration with the Royal Photographic Society, highlights some of these extraordinary women photographers who will come to light from a catalog of names previously hidden or forgotten.


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