© Images Damian Griffiths
16 JUNE – 16 JULY 2022
KÖNIG LONDON is pleased to present MODERN MAGIC, Dennis Osadebe’s first exhibition with KÖNIG GALERIE, comprised of ten new paintings, all acrylic and archival ink on canvas. With the starting point of black magic and its deep history as a thematic framing, the works present themselves like a theatre filled with visual challenges and rich experimentation.
Viewers are given a front-row seat to an unfolding show as Osadebe’s painted characters take on the role of performers captured amid moments of magic; their masks symbolic of divine protection. Abstracted architectural spaces are lit by variegated sources, along with exaggerated shadows, and heightened perspective, to create an atmosphere of a dreamlike stage. Drawing from a wellspring of metaphysical, Surrealist, and Renaissance painting, Osadebe conjures a realm where viewers can only question the location of the powers that be.
Lavish cultural motifs reflect Osadebe’s fascination with craftsmanship. References to the Magic 8 Ball are found throughout the paintings and act as a point of focus for Osadebe’s first-ever conceptually guided sculptural installation, with objects employed as vessels aimed at preservation. These include the traditional Nigerian fan – a ubiquitous, accessible object, necessary for everyday life – highlighted by a pristine, symbolic framing that celebrates its cultural significance. This one motif is exemplary for Osadebe’s take on preservation, which looks to heritage for answers to the future, consciously speaking of blackness and its pivotal role in shaping contemporary culture.
Osadebe’s radical approach to self-portraiture manifests his philosophical basis for contemporary Nigerian art, fusing Western techniques and indigenous traditions to construct a new paradigm for the evolution of art. According to the artist, “It is setting the clock back to expect that the art form of Africa today must resemble that of yesterday otherwise the former will not reflect the African image.”
© Text Holly Gibbs