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Michael Armitage’s work is currently on view in a group show at the Drawing Center in New York. Later this year, in May, he will have a solo show at Kunsthalle Basel. Also in the Spring, there will be an exhibition of Armitage’s work in London at White Cube, which has represented the artist since 2015.
This year is turning into a major momentum moment for the Kenyan-British artist. David Zwirner Gallery announced this morning that it would be representing Armitage jointly with White Cube. Zwirner will present new work by the artist at its gallery in 2024.
Armitage’s drawings and paintings depict real and imagined histories of East Africa. His work combines motifs referencing recent events, the art-historical canon, East African art, and his own memories. Beginning with preparatory drawings created in and around Nairobi, the artist transforms them into complex, large-scale works composed of layers of pigment on the textured surface of Ugandan Lubugo bark cloth, a material traditionally reserved for ritual purposes, in his London studio.
In 2020, Armitage founded the Nairobi Contemporary Art Institute (NCAI), which David Zwirner describes as “one of the most exciting spaces for contemporary art on the African continent.” The nonprofit fosters the local arts community by hosting exhibitions, curatorial research residencies, libraries, archives, and educational initiatives.
Armitage was born in 1984 in Nairobi, Kenya and now resides in both Nairobi and London. He received his BFA from the Slade School of Fine Art, London, and a postgraduate diploma from the Royal Academy Schools, London. In 2020, Armitage received the Ruth Baumgarte Art Award, and in 2021 he was elected a Royal Academician of Painting.
In the artist’s words, “There is a poetic side of art that you cannot trust as a historical document, but it is the poetic side that can be moving and that can also provide a subtle, less political way of questioning a situation.”