Mystique of the African Woman
Noah Jemisin's recent work exudes exuberantenergy and vitality, compositional complexity and a high degree of originality.He explores issues of identity and black femininity through visual symbols andmetaphors, drawing on a wide range of artistic inspirations, the culture of hissurroundings and mastery of the encaustic technique which was inspired by his earlierfamiliarity with use of the watercolor and gouache mediums, the free –flowingcapriciousness of the water much like the hot wax. He exploits figurativeimages for non-narrative purposes - they do not tell a story, nor do theyprovide a description of a situation, they are pictorial discoveries that oftenrelease associations in the observer through the power of their expressiveness.His extensive travels in Africa, Europe and Asia have helped him to develop anapproach to life and art that enables him to synthesize into a distinct anddynamic whole the various components of his identity and create work thatstrives to make meaning of his personal history as well as the ambiguities andcontradictions of contemporary culture. There is a great deal of criticalexperience, of knowledge and admiration of art historical precedents in hiswork as well as an ever sensitive deftly balanced interaction betweenmodernism’s formal concern’s with a belief in the emotive potential ofpainting.
Included in thisexhibition is a selection of fourteen strong works from the artist’s ongoing Mystique of the African Woman: The Anyeleh seriesthat strives to extend the range of painting as expressive poetry whilesimultaneously paying homage to the strength, resilience and vitality of theAfrican woman in her encounters with history and the realities of modernsociety. Although the figure is recognizable as a woman, no hint is given ofher character or background as the artist’s concern here is not so much withevoking personality as to manifest them, to conjure them into existence. Thearrangement of form, line and color gives the effect of a body coming togetherand falling apart. His belief that the spiritual and physical selves are inseparableis reflected in his ability to further explore expressions inherent but stillhidden in his intricately layered and textured pictures infused with nuanced, oftencoded gestures exulting aspects of black culture. Noah Jemisin is alwaysengaged in investigation of new materials and techniques as an integral part ofhis search for a new visual language, in the process he makes images that arepure inventions and full of new meanings. Performance art, spectacle, theatre,music, dance and masquerade are influences and artistic manifestation that alsorun parallel to his creative vision as an artist. The fluid and improvisationalqualities of the encaustic medium, which he has mastered for over 30 years,combined with an abiding feeling about the sanctity of artistic creation allowfor a high degree of proficiency in his work - he applies the encaustic to thecanvas by brushing, pouring and tilting, allowing the molten wax to run intodesired and incidental configurations, enabling him to effect immediately, thedesired density.