Major new exhibition at Charleston

To accompany its landmark recreation of Duncan Grant’s first solo exhibition from 1920, Charleston is offering the inaugural UK solo exhibition and museum display of work by the British, Brooklyn-based artist Tunji Adeniyi-Jones.
Tunji Adeniyi-Jones, 'A Flashy Encounter' 2021. Watercolour, ink and acrylic. Copyright_ Tunji Adeniyi-Jones; courtesy White CubeTunji Adeniyi-Jones, 'A Flashy Encounter' 2021. Watercolour, ink and acrylic. Copyright_ Tunji Adeniyi-Jones; courtesy White Cube
Tunji Adeniyi-Jones, 'A Flashy Encounter' 2021. Watercolour, ink and acrylic. Copyright_ Tunji Adeniyi-Jones; courtesy White Cube

Astral Reflections (until March 13) comprises entirely new works including nine works on paper, three large format monotypes and an aquatint print, all travelling to Charleston from the artist’s studio in Brooklyn, New York.

Tunji, who was born in London in 1992, said: “The bodies and forms depicted in these works can all be derived from the African continent and more specifically rooted in a mythology emanating from the West African coast.

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“The pictorial environments depicted in these works are abstract, and the malleable colour field in each composition then becomes an expression of my own experience of travelling through Europe, Africa, North and South America, and Asia.

“The title Astral Reflections speaks to the physical and emotional fragments that we gather and leave behind through continued travel and transition.

“I am interested in how the transformative nature of the Black experience is nourished by travel, movement and cultural hybridity.

“The figures in my work are expressions of my identity and there is something very rewarding about using the body as a vehicle for storytelling.

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“This is also something I really admire and appreciate about Duncan Grant’s work, his exploration and focus on the physical form.”

Charleston’s head of collections Darren Clarke said: “Drawing parallels with Duncan Grant’s vivid colour palette and expressive interest in the human form, these new works mark Adeniyi-Jones’s continued exploration of rendering patterns, shapes and bodies in motion.

“Central to his practice are West African mythologies and traditions; specifically, his Yoruban heritage which he draws upon and translates into a contemporary language of painting existing between the realms of realism and abstraction.

“At the centre of the exhibition are nine watercolour, ink and acrylic works on paper.

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“In Two Figures Blooming and Three Figures Beaming in Blue, pairs and triads of bodies manifest through flat beds of foliage illustrated through curved lines, tessellating shapes and ribboning layers.

“Deep in hue, the lush waves of scarlet and fuchsia in Three Figures Rising are accented with curls of white, orange and ochre.

“In A Flashy Encounter, layers of indigo and violet are applied in repetitive formations to breathe life into bodies, united through dance.

“The procession continues in Reflections, three large format monotypes which depict ethereal figures captured in pose. Monochrome in colour.

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“Each body is identified by a different colour: blue, red and magenta.

“Their skin is textured with thick painted brush strokes and curvatures outlined in broad white lines.

“Astral Reflections is Adeniyi-Jones’s first aquatint print with nine figures featured, conceived on a recent residency at Wingate Studio in New Haven, Connecticut, and illustrates dancing figures of contrasting violet tones set against a rose and coral petal backdrop. Posed in leaping silhouettes with flexed palms, pointed toes and arched backs, some face the viewer, others look toward a transcendental horizon.”

Darren added: “These works embody the crucial influence that the language of dance plays in Adeniyi-Jones’s work as the ultimate form of communication and one which surpasses cultural boundaries both universally and specifically across the diverse and multi-lingual African continent, which shares over 1000 languages.

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“Cross-cultural aesthetics and the exchange of ideas directly relate to the history of painting. European modernist movements like cubism and expressionism wouldn’t exist without the influence of West African sculpture. This deep-rooted influence is often overlooked, and Adeniyi-Jones wants to bring attention to this through his art.”

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Tunji lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Raised in England to Nigerian parents, throughout his childhood he spent a lot of time between London and Lagos. In 2014 he received his bachelor in fine arts from The Ruskin School of Art, Oxford University and in 2017 he was awarded an MFA in painting and printmaking from Yale School of Art.