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Video © Courtesy of Pushpin Films / Gagosian Gallery

THE INSTIGATOR Amoako Boafo - Gagosian - Dior duo

Publicity for Dior / Photo © Courtesy of Amoako Boafo







Award-winning portraiture and figurative painter Amoako Boafo from Accra, Ghana, presents his exhibition What could possibly go wrong, if we tell it like it is at Gagosian, New York.


Boafo’s large-scale paintings portray his friends, focusing on Black Identity. His monumental paintings have already become key works in the representation of contemporary Africa and the African diaspora.


Boafo paints the faces and bodies with using his fingers rather than brushes. His technique results in thick, wavy, tendon-like strokes of paint, and leads to a comparison with Egon Schiele. Boafo was practically unknown in the US until the painter Kehinde Wiley, his Instagram page in 2018. Wiley sent an introduction to his Los Angeles dealers of Roberts Projects and Boafo’s exhibition was an immediate success.  


His rapid rise in fortunes continued, when his work appeared in an auction for the first time. His painting of a woman in a lemon bathing suit, originally estimated at £30,000, fetched a staggering £675,000. Boafo went from unknown to red-hot market star in a little over a year.


His characters occupy domestic interiors, their casual grace reinforced by the familiarity of these settings. Making eye contact, Boafo’s subjects return the gaze of the viewer in an assertion of presence and identity, reflecting the artist’s interest in conveying charisma and individuality.


When I’m making paintings, I want the characters to be strong, I want them to be free, I want them to be independent, I want them to be unapologetic.” Amoako Boaf


Gold Daytona (2023) is a self-portrait of the artist in a pensive pose of absorbed thoughts, wearing a fitted mesh shirt, and a gold Rolex. A selection of his exhibited works will travel to Accra, Ghana, in May 2023, and be presented at dot.ateliers, giving an opportunity to his peers affected by US visa restrictions who would not otherwise be able to experience the exhibition.

Amoako Boafo / Gagosian, New York (USA)

16 March – 22 April 2023

/ The Instigator

THE INSTIGATOR Amoako Boafo - Gagosian - Gold Daytona.jpg

"Gold Daytona" (2023) by Amoako Boafo / Photo © Courtesy of Gagosian Gallery

Installation by Danh Vo / Photos © Courtesy of Bourse de Commerce

THE INSTIGATOR Danh Vo - Bourse de Commerce
THE INSTIGATOR Danh Vo - Bourse de Commerce
THE INSTIGATOR Danh Vo - Bourse de Commerce

Installation by Danh Vo / Photos © Courtesy of Zita Mina







Danh Vo’s monumental installation at the Bourse de Commerce, Before the Storm / Avant l'Orage is an immersive feast for the mind.


In the heart of Paris, Les Halles, lies one of the most stellar historic buildings, a remarkable edifice that stands out for its exceptional location, rich historical legacy, and recent transformation by the celebrated Japanese architectural genius Tadao Ando.


With Ando’s signature concrete structure, a post-modern medium, placed in the Rotunda of the Bourse de Commerce, contrasting with the building that was originally sited in 16th century as a Hôtel Particulier for Catherine de Medici, the space is instantly transformed into a discourse across times.


This juxtaposition of historical and contemporary elements serves as a way to disrupt traditional notions of linear time and challenge dominant cultural narratives; the present is characterised by a sense of disconnection from historical time, where the past and future merge, thus forming “zones of indistinction” of Giorgo Agamben. This interplay of remnants from different epochs creates a distancing effect that engenders a sense of contemporaneity.


Bourse de Commerce, Pinault Collection presents a new scenography conceived by Danh Vo (born in 1975), an installation, crossing personal history and collective memory, and exploring the processes of construction of identities, heritage and cultural values.


Vo approaches the world as an archivist. Visitors once entered the space, complete the relational dialogue alongside with the exhibition. His large-scale installation of lightning struck woods scaffolded by manmade timbers are orchestrated throughout the space.

The organic intertwined with the manufactured, the broken with the complete; setting against the backdrop of Ando’s sleek grey concrete structure and the 19th century panoramic fresco ceiling about global trades and colonisation. The work Tropeaolum by Danh Vo takes root in this greenhouse of metal, concrete and stone and creates a mutant territory, where stories shuffle different narratives and reconstructs an autonomous ecosystem. 


Vo arranges objects and artefacts of which he explores the symbolic and emotional charge, the power of evocation and repair. By interweaving his intimate trajectory and personal stories with larger geopolitical, social and historical issues, he questions the processes of construction of identities, heritages and transmitted values.

For the artist of Vietnamese and Danish nationality, child of boat people who emigrated to this Scandinavian country, history concerns the present and shapes the future.  From his departure from Vietnam at age four for Denmark, Vo's personal and family experiences are the main resources of his artistic creation.


Through a rigorous collection, he brings together photographs, memories, fragments, objects and testimonies of his personal life. The result are installations where each object takes on meaning, questioning our representations of identity and history.


The work also draws its roots from the life that Vo has led, since 2017, in his studio-farm in Güldenhof, near Berlin. The artist was transformed by this new relationship to “nature”, to the garden, to Earth. Flowers, mosses, trees, plant interactions, have become very present elements of his work.


I thought I would look at trees; I didn't know that I would cultivate a flower garden or a vegetable garden. A whole world opened up to me. How human beings perceive nature is the same discussion as how we perceive gender, race or whatever we have researched as a society. Identity opens up all these complex facets of what categorisation means.” Danh Vo

I found myself standing in the centre of the Rotunda, swirled and lost with contextual meanings as well as physical forms. Vo's personal history of radical displacement, echoes the past, the fresco, and the present, in the context of further globalisation. The branches and scaffolds vary in height and motion, accentuated by shimmering lights and plants. Suddenly this feeling became self-explanatory in the title of the exhibition, Before The Storm / Avant l’Orage, and for this exact moment, I was being in The Eye of The Storm / L’œil de l’Orage.

The exhibition is carefully curated, schematically staged, thought-provoking. The fabulous intertextuality within the presentation as well as with the building, is not to be missed.

Danh Vo / Bourse de Commerce, Pinault Collection, Paris (France)

8 February - 11 September 2023

/ Benjamin Liang

THE INSTIGATOR Gilbert and George Centre

Gilbert & George  / Photo © Courtesy of Maryam Eisler






The Gilbert & George Centre opened its doors in Spitalfields, London, in April 2023, housing three galleries and provide 280m2 of exhibition space for the artists’ work.

In 2015, the Trustees of the museum, which include the artists, acquired the Heneage Street building for approximately £5m. The building has been designed to be reminiscent of Gilbert & George’s nearby, restored Georgian home on Fournier Street. In the former industrial building, the goal of the acquisition was to create a permanent home and studios for the works of the artists.

As part of the exhibition programme, The Gilbert & George Centre will work with Community and Education groups to ensure that a broad demographic is engaged with The Centre.

London is such a changing global population every day, and if somebody comes from Venezuela or from Wolverhampton, there will be a place for them in London where they can see our pictures, and for everyone to convene from across the world to see the art of Gilbert & George.” Museum Trustee Michael Bracewell quotes the artists.

The Centre will open its inaugural exhibition, ‘The Paradisical Pictures’, showcasing thirty-five pictures made by Gilbert & George in 2019.

Gilbert & George Centre, London (UK)

Opening 1 April 2023

/ The Instigator

THE INSTIGATOR Matt Johnson - Desert X

"Sleeping Figure" by Matt Johnson / Photo © Courtesy of Matt Johnson






"Sleeping Figure" by Matt Johnson might be a cubist rendition of a classical odalisque, except here the cubes are shipping containers belonging to the globalized movement of goods and trade.


Conceived at the time when a Japanese-owned, Taiwanese-operated, German-managed, Panamanian-flagged and Indian-manned container behemoth found itself for six days under Egyptian jurisdiction while blocking the Suez Canal, Johnson’s figure speaks to the crumples and breaks of a supply chain economy in distress.


Situated along the main artery connecting the Port of Los Angeles to the inland United States, the sculpture gains local relevance from the recently approved siting of distribution centres in the north of Palm Springs and Desert Hot Springs. Casual and laconic, it overlooks the landscape, reminding us that the invisible hand of globalism now connected to its container body has come to rest in the Coachella Valley.


Matt Johnson / DESERT X / Palm Springs (USA)

Exit 110 Haugen-Lehmann Way to Railroad Ave, Palm Springs

4 March - 7 May 2023

/ The Instigator

THE INSTIGATOR Markus Schinwalk - Thaddaeus Ropac - interior man.jpg

Photo © Courtesy of Thaddaeus Ropac






Last week, much acclaimed Austrian artist Markus Schinwald opened his solo exhibition Extentions and Monuments at the Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, London.


Schinwald presents a group of large-scale oil paintings from his celebrated installation Panorama (2022), shown at the 16th edition of the Lyon Biennale. He employs a painterly visual language that oscillates between abstraction and figuration, the past and the present, incorporating technoid blurs of pixels and vertical purple lines suggestive of numerical glitches on a computer.


Representing Schinwald’s interest in reconfiguring historical imagery within distinctly contemporary frameworks, the paintings are displayed alongside anthropomorphic wooden sculptures made from antique furniture and a selection of black-and-white prints of erased monuments.

Markus Schinwald / Thaddaeus Ropac, London (UK)

30 March - 13 May 2023

/ The Instigator

THE INSTIGATOR Markus Schinwalk - Thaddaeus Ropac - interior

Video © Courtesy of Hauser & Wirth / Amy Sherald






Two famous kisses caught on camera and canvas: a US sailor wrapping his arms around a woman in an old Hollywood-style pose at Times Square, captured by photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt in 1945, and the latter, years later, made its way into Amy Sherald’s studio.


In her new painting "For love, and for country," Sherald co-opts Eisenstaedt's image to make a bold statement of love: two Black male sailors sharing a deeply passionate kiss. It's a monumental work, not only by its 10 feet tall size but its subject. At a time when gay and transgender rights in the US are being endangered by a record number of anti-LGBTQ bills, Sherald said she wanted her friends to feel "safe" through her work.


After centuries of paintings devoid of Black presence, the invention of the camera gave Black artists a way to present themselves and their communities.


My mission as an artist really hasn’t changed: to put more complex stories of Black life in the forefront of people’s minds. We are in a place where same-sex marriages are being threatened and where, often, there's fatal violence against transgender and non-binary people," she said during a call.


"There's a long history of censorship and erasure that's weighed down the gay kiss, and it's often excluded from view. Affection within that community is policed. I think we're living in a moment now where the deployment of a kiss — and specifically a gay kiss — could be used as a juggernaut." Amy Sherald

Sherald engages with the history of photography and portraiture, inviting viewers to participate in a more complex debate about accepted notions of race and representation, and to situate Black heritage centrally in American art.


Over the past decade, Sherald has become a leading figure in contemporary American art, most widely recognized for a 2018 portrait of former First Lady Michelle Obama that now hangs in the National Portrait Gallery.

Sherald uses a camera extensively in the making of each work, staging studio photo shoots before she begins to paint. Her work doesn't hide its relationship to photography but rather leans into it, each canvas feeling like a meeting of the two mediums. But her painting of the Times Square kiss, despite all its similarities, has a starkly different feel from Eisenstaedt's image. In Sherald's version, a man in a crisp white shirt and sailor's hat pulls his partner in close. The second figure, holding his hat aside, surrenders himself to the kiss. "If they weren't comfortable, it would be a different painting," Sherald added.


The exhibition titled "The World We Make” debuted at Hauser & Wirth gallery during Frieze London, marking the artist’s first solo show in Europe.

Amy Sherald / Hauser & Wirth, London (UK)

2 October – 23 December 2022

/ The Instigator

"For Love and for Country" by Amy Sherald / Photo © Courtesy of Hauser & Wirth

"V-J in Times Square" by Alfred Eisenstaedt / Photo © Courtesy of Alfred Eisenstaedt

THE INSTIGATOR Amy Sherald Alfred Eisenstaedt - VJ day kiss in Time Square
THE INSTIGATOR Amy Sherald - For Love and for Country - VJ day kiss
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