Colorful and committed: the works of the British artist Lubaina Himid light up the rooms of the Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts in Lausanne.
It is the largest solo exhibition of the artist, who was born in Zanzibar in 1954, and a premiere in Switzerland. The ones in «Lubaina Himid. The paintings, everyday objects, poetic texts, monumental installations or sound environments shown in So Many Dreams» can be seen on two floors of the MCBA until February 5, 2023.
The exhibition was organized in collaboration with Tate Modern in London. It has been completely reworked with the artist, who was awarded the prestigious Turner prize in 2017 and lives and works in Preston, UK, to best appear in the interiors of the Vaud museum, as MCBA director Juri Steiner announced on the Thursday before the press explained.
The retrospective offers a colourful, luminous and festive panorama of a powerful and very committed work. Himid’s art is influenced by the British trend in the 1980s and the Afro-American cultural movement Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 1970s.
Inspired by Lubaina Himid’s passion for opera and her training as a theater set designer, the exhibition is conceived as a sequence of scenes. Visitors are immediately immersed in vivid colors, sea tones and the interchange between images and figures.
The artist’s poetic and dreamlike imagination draws its inspiration from the history of Western painting, from textile motifs from Africa and other parts of the world, from human encounters, from the blue or gray tones of the sea, the sky and the horizon. At the same time, Himid continues to explore and rethink colonial history and its contemporary implications.
“It’s both a visual journey and an auditory experience,” said Nicole Schweizer, curator of the exhibition. Another characteristic of the artist is that she lets her works meet and articulate them around questions, she added.
“We live in clothes and buildings – do they suit us?”, “How do we distinguish safety from danger?”, “What are monuments for?”, “What does love sound like?” – all these questions make you think about how the environment is built, about historical places and their memory, about colonialism, political and social responsibility, personal relationships and conflicts that shape our lives.
Painting cycles, including “Revenge” (1991-1992), “Plan B” (1999) and “Le Rodeur” (2016-2018), are brought together for the first time in Lausanne. They enter into a dialogue with works from all of Lubaina Himid’s creative periods, from the best-known installation «A Fashionable Marriage» (1984) to the most recent sound installations such as «Old Boat/New Money» (2019) and «Blue Grid Test» ( 2020).
Symbols, allegory, satire, poetry, reverie, frontier places, theatricality, the sound of the sea, music and song: the expressive, eclectic and ultimately coherent work of the contemporary British artist is indeed “breathtaking”, as Juri Steiner put it.