Celebrated Fashion Designer and Curator Duro Olowu Gathers 60 International Artists at Camden Arts Centre

June 6, 2016

The upcoming show at Camden Arts Centre will be curated by the celebrated fashion designer of Nigerian origin, Duro Olowu. The exhibition will feature works from over sixty international artists, addressing a plethora of different subjects and themes including the ones that relate to the discourse of contemporary art, such as gender and sexuality, as well as the traditional ones, such as portraiture. Given that Olowu’s practice is based on fashion and the phenomena that it deals with, it is somewhat obvious why the exhibition aims to articulate a relationship with fabrics and textiles, through a number of works of different media.

Duro Olowu
Eric Mack - In Definitely Felt, 2016. Courtesy of the artist and Moran Bondaroff, Los Angeles

Passion for Textiles

Making & Unmaking will bring together some new commissions by Lisa Brice and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye among others, and some of the antique examples of West African textiles and the authentic Bauhaus tapestries. The comprehensive approach encourages diversity, in order to make this artist-selected show as thorough and versatile as possible. Jenni Lomax, the director of the artist-selected program which began in 1999, outlines Olowu’s passion for textiles as a brave, inspirational take on art and making, and also a bonding element between art and fashion, both of which are concerned with patterns, repetition, politics and process. Lomax has noticed how this passion is something Olowu shares with Glenn Ligon, with whom he had a meaningful conversation at Tate Modern last year. “This take on art and making, formed from a unique understanding of the relationship of fabric to the body, underpins the choices Olowu has made in shaping this exhibition”, says Lomax.

Duro Olowu
Left: Claude Cahun - Self portrait (kneeling, naked, with mask), 1928 Courtesy of the Jersey Heritage Collections. / Right: Leonce Raphael Agbodjelou - Untitled (Muscleman Series) 2012. Image courtesy of Jack Bell Gallery

Addressing the Relationship between the Body and the Garment

Fashion is inseparable from the body, but the two need not meet in the most apparent ways. The curator aims to examine all the possible relations between the human body and the garment, the texture and the material that helps it take on its final form. The exhibition includes sculpture, photography, painting and collage, alongside the archival material that was mentioned before (garments from Africa and the Bauhaus). In addition, the show will revisit the notion of the cloth itself, and the ways in which it can be transformed. Olowu also mentions the personal and the intimate aspects of the exhibition: “The more I looked at a work that I was considering for the show – not necessarily textile based or straight-forward painting – the more the intricacy and the beauty of an artist discovering and realising what they are capable of on an intuitive level, came through. I am attracted to specific pieces that take the artist in a direction outside what is regarded as their signature style, things that even they may have overlooked or disregarded."

Duro Olowu
Left Meredith Frampton - Winifred Radford, 1921. Courtesy of National Portrait Gallery, London. Right Sheila Hicks - Cordes Sauvages - Hidden Blue, 2014. Courtesy of Lady Alison Deighton Collection and Alison Jacques Gallery

Duro Olowu - a Designer and a Curator

All together, the exhibition is a collage itself, one that speaks about the important role of clothing and its relationship with art. Making and Unmaking will be on view from June 19th through September 18th 2016 at Camden Arts Centre in London. Press view is scheduled for June 17th, and the preview for June 18th. There is an introductory talk planned for the same day, and it will begin at 3 PM.

Featured images: Lynette Yiadom-Boakye - Tie The Temptress To The Trojan, 2016. Courtesy Corvi-Mora, London and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York; Nobukho Nqaba - Umaskhenkethe Unomgcana - Untitled 1, 2012. Courtesy of African Artists Foundation; Donna Huddleston - The Warriors, 2015. Courtesy of the artist, Photographer: Hans-Georg Gaul.

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