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Lakwena Maciver

Lakwena Maciver: Jump

From 18 June – 25 September 2022, Hastings Contemporary is proud to present an exhibition of Lakwena Maciver’s Jump paintings, abstract portraits of some of the most inspiring basketball players, both past and present. Dominika Hicks writes.

The show will be an immersive experience, as the entire floor of the Foreshore Gallery will feature a monumental 18 x 10 metre depiction of Sweetwater Clifton, one of the first ever African Americans to play in the NBA.

London based artist, Lakwena is internationally renowned for her joy-inducing palette, dynamic designs and profound, succinct messages. Her public art commissions and installations include those at the Tate, Somerset House, The Bowery (NYC), The Southbank Centre, Covent Garden, and other large scale architectural installations in Munich, Miami, New York, LA and Dubai. Most recently her acclaimed Back in the Air: A Meditation on Higher Ground has brought to life the half-acre roof terrace on top of Temple Underground Station.

Lakwena Maciver

The origins of these ‘Jump paintings’ stem from two full-size courts painted in 2020 in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, to honour Senator Flowers, whose impassioned 2019 speech against proposed ‘Stand Your Ground’ legislation went viral and inspired Lakwena in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement. Entitled ‘I’ll Bring You Flowers’, the defiantly joyful paintings used the universality of the basketball court as a canvas to speak of hope in the face of oppression and blessing through adversity.

For these new paintings, Lakwena took physical and biographical references as a starting point. Each is titled with the first name of the player and is the same height as the individual. They are painted on bespoke slim wooden panels and given a seductive, almost mirror-like gloss. This idea of reflection adds a personal interactive element to the viewing experience.

Lakwena says “I like the notion of the basketball court as a platform or a stage where the players become almost like superheroes… The heights that they soar to… it’s like they are flying, somehow able to rise above the limitations of this world. This is especially poignant for me given that basketball is indisputably dominated by African Americans, and their style of play has shaped the game.

“I’m interested in what brings us closer together, so for me these paintings are about being aspirational, dreaming, and the connection between people, but also about the link between heaven and earth and ourselves as individuals in relation to a higher power.

Lakwena Maciver

“The politicisation of the game is something I’m interested in exploring. The ‘slam dunk’ for instance, one of Basketball’s great crowd pleasers, could be seen as a physical manifestation of black power. So much so that it was banned in 1967 for 10 years, coincidentally after a year of Lew Alcindor’s domination of the game. I see these paintings as an opportunity to celebrate black power, joy, and self-expression.”

Hastings Contemporary Director Liz Gilmore says: “As part of the celebration of our summer season and 10th anniversary year, we are thrilled to welcome back Lakwena to Hastings Contemporary, with a dynamic set of her Jump paintings. The exhbition includes the presentation of five new and unseen works. Visitors will be able to share Lakwena’s passion and admiration for some of the great basketball players of our time, with our large ground floor gallery having the look and feel of a baskeball court.”

A version of this exhibition was first seen at the Vigo Gallery, London 19 January – 28 February 2022.

Lakwena Maciver

Lakwena Maciver was born in London (1986) to an English mother and Ugandan father and spent formative years of her childhood in East Africa. She studied graphic design at the London College of Communication graduating in 2009. The name Lakwena – meaning ‘Messenger’ in the Acholi language of northern Uganda – is reflected in the artist’s practice, which is concerned with the dissemination of messages. Her work explores and gently subverts ideas relating to decolonisation, redemption, escapism, afrofuturism and utopia. She has been undertaking public art commissions internationally for over a decade and has recently exhibited with solo exhibitions at Hastings Contemporary and Somerset House. She lives and works in London and is represented by Vigo Gallery. 

Hastings Contemporary

Hastings Contemporarychampions modern and contemporary art. An ambitious programme of temporary exhibitions showcases work by important Modern British artists, internationally celebrated artists and emerging practitioners, often in Kunsthalle-style displays throughout the building. The gallery has developed a reputation for its focus on painting. Innovative programming, partnerships and collaborations support a commitment to outreach, learning and participation. The award-winning building is located on the town’s historic fishing beach among the net huts and working structures of the fishing fleet.

For more information about Hastings Contemporary, visit their website.

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Posted 12:21 Sunday, Jun 26, 2022 In: Arts News

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