Nii Obodai's "Maputo Matola Rio Salt Works 3" (2017) in Maputo, Mozambique, from the series "Paradox of Paradise."
Nii Obodai's "Maputo Matola Rio Salt Works 3" (2017) in Maputo, Mozambique, from the series "Paradox of Paradise." (Nii Obodai)

This London exhibition brings together the work of two artists introducing their unique perspectives on Africa

Messums London is exhibiting a selection of works by the artists Nii Obodai and Justin Keene. The exhibit brings the work of both artists together for the first time and according to a news release is “a selection of delicately composed and ethereal images ... [that] allows us to consider within an aesthetic language our relationship with nature and read cultural history through the environment.”

Although each artist has their own distinctive approach, according to Messums, they both explore “the marks of history in today’s African landscape while questioning their own notions of home … Their work reflects on people’s relationship with the land, mining and extraction as instrumental factors in the colonial and economic history of Ghana, Mozambique and South Africa.”

Both artists’ work is looking toward the future, wondering what that might entail. For both, land plays a central role in their images and to that very question. Both artists see the land as its own being. In their work, land is as much a character as a person.

Obodai’s and Keene’s work is, of course, their own. Their respective bodies of work are informed by their own backgrounds: Obodai on Mozambique and Ghana, where he grew up; and Keene on South Africa, where his parents lived.

According to Messums, Obodai’s work brings “attention to the remains, traces, and scars of the past on the land.

“The natural environments photographed by Nii Obodai hold conflicted stories, shaped by colonial and post-independent histories and, at the same time, informed by the custodians of cultural and spiritual heritage.”

Keene’s work differs, according to Messums: “Across his lyrical and poetic imagery, Keene explores concepts of identity and representation, as well as his conflicting relationship with this country, its colonial legacy and the ‘born free’ generation.”

If you are anywhere near London, you can go check out both artists’ work for yourself. The exhibit, titled “Resonances,” is on view until Feb. 11. You can find out more information about it on Messums website.

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