- 09 Jun 2022 - 08 Jul 2022
John Madu “Year of the Masque”
John Madu holds an increasingly significant position amongst a new vanguard of artists currently shaping the stylistic direction and narrative of contemporary art in Nigeria and the broader West African region. Collectively, through portraiture and figuration they interrogate identity and dismantle negative racial constructs by celebrating Black people in confident and assertive gaze. Distinctively, Madu examines critically, the historically unequal relationship between Africa and the West, as well as decolonisation and the transitional society.
15 monumentally-sized paintings mostly in acrylic are the subject of his fourth solo exhibition, Year of the Masque. Often incorporating other mediums like ink and pastel, they together serve as the best examples of the artist’s current inquisitions. Presented by Fondazione Mudima in Milan, the title of the exhibition at first glance hints only to a special year set aside to remember and to celebrate the masque—a form of amateur dramatic entertainment, popular among the nobility in 16th and 17th century England. It embraced dancing and acting by masked actors. The title however, is more instructive and sets the tone for a deeper understanding of Madu’s oeuvre.