Chibụike Ụzọma – To Kick a Stone (Paperback)
Chibụike Ụzọma (b. 1992, Port Harcourt, Nigeria), is a multidisciplinary artist working with painting, photography, drawing, text and video, living and working in New Haven, Connecticut. Documented here are sixteen of the artist’s large paintings rendered in oil and acrylic or acrylic spray paint on canvas, made in 2022. Accompanying an exhibition of the same name at Simon Lee Gallery, London, the first solo exhibition of his work in the UK, this publication is the fourth pillar of a collaborative project by the artist, setting his own paintings in relation to video and audio works by Edward Owens and João Orecchia respectively. Ụzọma works with non-linear narratives, using a mix of painting languages that dodges and weaves the liminal spaces between representation and meaning. Fragments of stencilled letters jolt against textured pools of paint, and diaphanous figures are cropped by cinematic horizons. Comprising colourful, abstruse portraiture against stark black and white backgrounds, the paintings in 'To Kick a Stone' are deeply suggestive, but ultimately formalist explorations of shape and composition.An introduction by Kat Sapera, Director of Simon Lee Gallery, draws upon her first encounters with the artist and details the influence of philosophy and the act of looking. Sapera brings the collaboration with Orecchia and Owens to the forefront of her discussion while touching on Ụzọma’s making processes.In an essay by Ụzọma, the artist himself writes lyrically upon subjects including poetry, religion, good and evil, in order to bring a number of key concepts that circle his work into the field of view.Essays by Bishupal Limbu, Associate Professor of English at Portland State University, and by Carlos Valladares, writer and critic, help amass a portrait of an artist whose enquiry is informed by film, philosophy and pictorial language – with the layering, unravelling and opening-up of narrative as a core focus. Their writing brings key art historical figures into dialogue with Ụzọma’s work.Lastly, the artist appears in conversation with writer and curator Ekow Eshun. This frank and illuminating conversation provides insight into the artist’s painting practice, previous series of works and intentions, while also discussing issues of identity and Blackness. Their interview further reflects on past exhibitions, connections with other key artists and Ụzọma’s recent MFA studies at Yale.Published on the occasion of the exhibition Chibụike Ụzọma – To Kick a Stone, 19 January – 25 February 2023, Simon Lee Gallery, London.Edited by Kat Sapera, designed by Joe Gilmore, printed by Pressision, Leeds and co-published in 2023 by Simon Lee Gallery and Anomie Publishing, London.Chibụike Ụzọma (b. 1992, Port Harcourt, Nigeria), is a multidisciplinary artist working with painting, photography, drawing, text and video, living and working in New Haven, Connecticut. Ụzọma received his BFA from the University of Benin, an MFA from Yale University School of Art and was awarded the Francis Greenburger Fellowship in 2018. His work is included in the public collections of Kistefos Museum, Jevnaker, Norway; Didi Museum, Lagos, Nigeria and Fotohof Salzburg, Austria. Recent exhibitions include Pace, New York, NY (2021); Lyles & King, New York, NY (2021); Everard Read, Cape Town, South Africa (2019); Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, Florida, FL (2019); Circa Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa (2017); and D-Contemporary Gallery, London, UK (2017).