Oct 16 - Nov 17 2023
81 boulevard Beaumarchais, Paris 3
In Michael Igwe’s new exhibition, the subjects lean into the paradoxes of living. Each body, a home, bears witness unto itself—how it holds, simultaneously, the capacity for virtue and vice. These ‘home paintings’ build on the premise that bodies accommodate the flux of being. With every painting, he asks, what dissonances exist within this familiar context? What is to be done with them? A host of psychic weights are held in disequilibrium. From unbelief tempered with guilt, to fear steeled with defiance and shame in inflamed by desire, Michael Igwe brings to focus the lively strain of inner life. Where some of the figures attempt to shield themselves from categorising scrutiny, others aim to articulate raw longing.
The paintings possess a part-allegorical, part-poetic quality. The body is presented as a site of burden and a locus of contemplation. Gestural movements ash upon the body’s vulnerabilities, conveying at once their restraint and fragility. And yet, these images vibrate with their own tensions and preserve from public view the riots of interiority. The smaller paintings capture, individually, the impulses that catalyse perception into experience. Mastering what the artist calls ‘the violent quiet’, each subject contorts their body into a palimpsest for the words they cannot say.
The paintings of Tantrum expose Igwe’s insistence on the material. Extending across a range of sizes, the subjects sustain a steady conversation with the expanse of colour that surrounds them. Acrylic touching the canvas and beyond, the materiality of the paintings merge with the ideas that develop(alongside) them. Features blur into one another, boundaries are unsettled, motion becomes fluid, and bodies lose control. In the end, there
is the mindful gaze of the artist, overseeing it all.
Michael Igwe (b. 1994, Lagos, Nigeria) works primarily with painting. His approach to the body and form is one of devotion to the fluidity and expanse of inner life. Through his practice, Igwe paints a cartography of experiences so extensive in their range that they transcend particularity. He pursues primal gestures that contemplate, conjure, and engender in each image the conditions that constitute selfhood. Each of his paintings is a clear meditation on form and subjectivity. Michael received his BFA degree from the University of Benin, Nigeria in 2018 and is a part of the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Class of 2023.
Photos © Diane Arques / ADAGP, Paris, 2023