James Mishio: Shall We Start from the Beginning?

Clerkenwell Gallery, London, United Kingdom
05 Aug 2021 - 19 Aug 2021

Fishmongers, 2021, Acrylic, Oil, and Fabric on Canvas, 59 x 89 inches

Fishmongers, 2021, Acrylic, Oil, and Fabric on Canvas, 59 x 89 inches

Shall We Start from the Beginning? is James Mishio’s first solo exhibition in the UK, showcasing recently completed new works. This show documents Mishio’s artistic trajectory, looking at the foundational roots of his practice, where the seemingly insignificant but influential daily interactions, informed his painting into a collaborative project of memories and moments.

Through his portraiture and figurative works, James Mishio has been able to assemble individual characters and insert them into a flourishing community. As a self-taught artist, it was this reliance on community that Mishio was profoundly aware of, thus his work began not by ‘doing’ art, but rather by simply ‘being’. Through an intentional dedication to just being a member of his neighbourhood, Mishio was able to make an internal connection to those around him, evident in the familiar gestures, mannerisms, and actions he would later reproduce on the canvas.

This approach perhaps made Mishio himself his first-ever subject. It required a certain level of introspection to effectively negotiate with the idiosyncrasies of oneself; the depth and dynamism of our personalities and how that can be conveyed without damaging the aesthetic buoyancy of the image. Mishio has been able to maintain this technical balance by remaining immersed in his own cultural experience, in which the sights, sounds, and smells of the city became mobile remnants and recollections of a place that could be transported back to the studio and rematerialize in his paintings.

As he developed his practice, the studio served as a training centre, much like those of the artists during the Italian Renaissance. A workshop to learn the specifics. Eventually, this was converted into a laboratory, a space to conduct hypotheses with care and consideration. As Mishio continued in his attempt to accurately translate the energy of the people and places he encountered in his paintings, he found revelatory comfort in recognising that the studio was not a place for creation but for contextualising. It was in the studio where he could reflect the nuance of the Street Hawker, the Mango Girl, and the Local Barber.

Shall We Start from the Beginning? is an autobiographical compilation of casual happenings, in which James Mishio makes tangible- through his textural impasto and fabric finishes- the timeline of his artistic memory. Sensitive and intuitive, controlled yet unimpeded, this show is the result of when the eyes are taught to see, the ears are taught to listen, and the hands are put to work.

James Mishio (b.1997) lives and works in Accra, Ghana. Although Mishio studied Visual Arts during his education- which undoubtedly fed his love for the arts- he is entirely self-taught. He extensively experimented, and after producing figurative work, landscape paintings, and abstractions, Mishio found a centripetal force in his own style of portraiture in which faces of members within his community are enlarged and reproduced with great intimacy. With solo and group exhibitions in Ghana, Mishio has been a key member of Ghana’s growing artistic infrastructure.

Kensu Oteng is an independent curator and dealer of African art and antiques. His background in Archaeology reinforced his love of history, particularly how past human activity influences society today. This commitment to the dissemination of ideas led him to connect with contemporary artists, whose public outreach has been limited. Kensu Oteng aims to provide the public with a contextual framework to explore and engage artist works, with nuance and transparency.





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