Sooni Taraporevala: Home in the City, Bombay 1976 – Mumbai 2016 at The Whitworth

By Jo Manby

Whitworth Art Gallery, The University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester M15 6ER
On view until 28 January 2018

My third review (following from my review of Raqib Shaw and John Akomfrah’s ‘Vertigo Sea’) looks at the Whitworth’s current exhibition of photography by Sooni Taraporevala, and introduces the South Asia art and culture programme that marks the 70th anniversary of the Partition of India.

1_Sooni_Taraporevala_Salim and Tukloo Bombay 1987

Salim and Tukloo, Bombay 1987 by Sooni Taraporevala. Courtesy of the artist and Sunaparanta

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Raqib Shaw at The Whitworth

Jo Manby

The Whitworth, The University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester M15 6ER
On view until 19 November 2017

As promised, my next review of The Whitworth’s summer exhibitions explores the art of London-based artist Raqib Shaw. His gloriously opulent exhibition is part of the South Asia art and culture programme that marks the 70th anniversary of Partition. The programme is part of the work of the New North & South network which involves ten North of England organisations.

The exhibition is co-curated by Dr Maria Balshaw, Director of Tate, Diana Campbell Betancourt, Director of Dhaka Art Summit and the artist himself.

Some key facts about Raqib Shaw:

  • Shaw was born in Calcutta and grew up in Kashmir, which he describes as a very beautiful place etched on his memory.
  • His family are involved in textiles.
  • Originally he wanted to be a teacher of English literature.
  • He is totally devoted to his art and lives for his work.
  • His Peckham studio doubles as his home and is filled with beautiful objects and trailing plants.

The interior of the first main gallery at The Whitworth is transformed, and now has the feel of an exclusive boudoir-style club. Shaw’s newly commissioned wallpaper covers every wall, dark both in colour and theme (it’s available to buy in The Whitworth shop as a limited edition). It is called ‘After A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ (see below) and features phantasmagorical beings intertwined with braided creepers and branches over a background the colour of lapis lazuli.

After A Midsummer Night’s Dream

After A Midsummer Night’s Dream, © Raqib Shaw and The Whitworth, The University of Manchester

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Vertigo Sea by John Akomfrah at The Whitworth

By Jo Manby

The Whitworth, The University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester M15 6ER
This exhibition was on view until 23rd July 2017.

The Whitworth has some fantastic exhibitions on over the summer, I’m especially excited to see the gallery’s contribution to the New North and South programme, bringing the work of South Asian artists to prominence. But before I talk about the current exhibitions (watch this space next week) I want to reflect on another piece we saw there recently that had a profound effect on me: Vertigo Sea, a three-screen film installation by the artist, filmmaker and founder member of Black Audio Film Collective John Akomfrah.

the image shows three large cinema screens in a row in a dark room, each showing different images, one shows a boat on a rough sea, one shows a misty forest, one shows a burning forest

John Akomfrah, Vertigo Sea, 2015. ©Smoking Dog Films. Courtesy Lisson Gallery

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Critiquing the Trappings of Power – the work of Samuel Fosso

Jo Manby has taken a break from reviewing books to find out about self-portrait artist Samuel Fosso.

On a recent city break in Paris, we came across the privately run Galerie Jean Marc Patras. It was a cold February morning in the Marais – an area known for its arts and culture – just down the way from the Picasso Museum. In the windows of the gallery were two imposing works from Samuel Fosso’s Emperor of Africa series. These showed the artist gazing into an indeterminate, glorious distance, his face made up to represent the Chinese leader Mao Zedong, his figure dressed in Mao Zedong’s uniform-styled outfits.

Samuel Fosso Autoportrait, “Emperor of Africa” series 2013
© Samuel Fosso
Courtesy Jean Marc Patras / Paris

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New Acquisition: The National Black Arts Alliance Library

Earlier this year we were lucky enough to acquire the library of the National Black Arts Alliance (NBAA, previously the BAA); an astonishingly large collection of high quality books and publications covering art, culture, history and literature, from Africa, South Asia, America, the Caribbean and the UK.  It’s an incredibly rich resource, which will add visual depth, colour and beauty to our library. Continue reading