Michael Armitage’s extraordinary paintings mix personal memories with images from the media and popular culture; daily political events mingle with figures from African and European myths, philosophy, and art history. The British-Kenyan painter masterfully interweaves stories and themes from his East African homeland with the artistic traditions of Europe and East Africa. The complex narrative threads running through Armitage’s handmade lubugo (bark cloth) canvases unfurl in an atmospherically dense pictorial world buoyed by existential contrasts. As accessible as Armitage’s dreamlike scenes are with their sensual richness, seductive colors, and dynamic lines, elsewhere his paintings appear disturbing and somber, almost demonic.
On three floors, the works brought together in the exhibition Pathos and the Twilight of the Idle at the Kunsthaus Bregenz tell of humans’ borderline experiences and depths, of the fragility of political, social, and psychic conditions. In doing so, they intentionally break with familiar viewing habits and open our eyes to the multifaceted richness and contradictions of human existence.
In a modestly designed publication of exceptional format, the paintings and drawings—inspired by the presentation of the works in the scaled-back architecture of the Kunsthaus Bregenz—are shown to advantage on a large scale and displaying their full radiance. Supplementing the illustrated works is an extensive conversation between Michael Armitage and Thomas D. Trummer. It not only traces the exhibition’s dramaturgy but is the first interview in which the artist provides deep personal insight into the process of creating his works.
The publication was designed in a close collaboration with Michael Armitage.
Edited by Thomas D. Trummer, Kunsthaus Bregenz
With a conversation between the artist and Thomas D. Trummer
Design: Ronnie Fueglister, Yves Graber
English / German
Soft cover, Swiss brochure, 30 x 40 cm, 52 pages
Distribution: Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther und Franz Kön