ARRIVAL ON THE BEACH: A Debut Solo Show by Kemi Onabule | It's 2020 For F*ck Sake – A Thirteen Artist, Back-to-Back Solo Exhibition Marathon
The history of colonialism is often explored through the lens of the colonizer, with the pictorial records of these experiences often representing an exclusively the western perspective that takes indiginous peoples as its subject. In my paintings I seek to reverse this perspective, following instead the gaze of indigenous peoples, inhabiting their experiences as they look out onto the horizon as the arrivals come ashore.
“Arrival on the Beach” is a series of paintings, drawings, and prints that details the experiences of colonised people from their first contact with the newly-arrived imperialists. The history of colonialism is often explored through the lens of the colonizer, with the pictorial records of these experiences often representing an exclusively the western perspective that takes indiginous peoples as its subject. In my paintings I seek to reverse this perspective, following instead the gaze of indigenous peoples, inhabiting their experiences as they look out onto the horizon as the arrivals come ashore.
Additionally, materials formerly used to communicate imperial power have been reappropriated here in order to demonstrate the dignity of subjugated peoples. During periods of European colonialism, oil painting was often used as a tool to convey dominance over an empire’s subjects, creating a visual language to denote status and power within the images. Subverting this, retrospectively, confers the power of colonizer onto the pictured colonized subject.
Kemi Onabule's paintings are a response to a world that seems to be in chaos; unravelling economic structures, overwhelming ecological destruction, and the overturning of societal norms have necessitated a societal reassessment of conceptions of belonging and identity. In turn, Onabule’s paintings aim to engage with this narrative in the form of a challenge, showing a utopic, yet layered view of humanity. Heavily featuring female figures and lush, unrestrained vegetation in her work, she hopes to reimagine a world that is unburdened by the demands of modernity and the alienation of labor under contemporary capitalist frameworks.
Guts Gallery and Soft Punk Magazine are proud to collaboratively present “It's 2020 For F*ck Sake”, a thirteen artist, back-to-back solo exhibition marathon, running from 24 September 2020 to 21 December 2020, first in a railway arch under Haggerston Station, and now with a return to lockdown, online through VR content.
Born from a desire to refuse the conditions of silence, paralysis, and erasure brought on by our current social and political climate, this exhibition series has been conceived as a means of exhibiting some of the most promising practitioners of the new generation, creating space for display, experimentation, and artistic ownership in an otherwise compromising market.
Actively aware of the scarcity of shows for underrepresented emerging artists, each artist exhibiting has been given full license over the space. However, this is an exhibition marathon founded in community — while each artist has a solo show, the broader ethos is one of collaboration, accessibility, progress, and collective shouldering of one another.
Once more returning to “lockdown” as of Thursday, 5th November, the remainder of the solo exhibitions will be launched and viewed through virtual reality, a viewing room via Guts’ upcoming Artlogic website and of course, Instagram. All of these platforms will be made live at the same time each week on the date the private views were due to take place. We would like viewers to engage with the works as you would in our physical space, curating an environment specific to each show and artist.
At a moment when the arts sector is on the brink of a major crisis, we are committed to continue putting our community first, paying fair wages, and providing sustained support for artists in any way we can.