A monograph on Michael Armitage features the Kenyan-British artist’s hauntingly incandescent paintings from the last two years, on the occasion of his exhibition at Kunsthalle Basel (May – September 2022) and White Cube Bermondsey, London (September – November 2022). All copies purchased at Kunsthalle Basel are supplemented with a special insert containing exhibition views of the Basel exhibition.
Addressing themes from founding myths and rituals to everyday heroisms and abuses of power, Armitage entwines imagery from various sources on irregular, stitched together pieces of Lubugo cloth, which often reveal holes and tears. A span of full-bleed details honors the cohesion between composition and texture, and a fictional email by South African singer, actor and author Nakhane answers back to underlying compositional tensions. An extract from award-winning novelist, playwright and essayist Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s recent epic The Perfect Nine (2020) grounds the paintings by Armitage in the foundational Gĩkũyũ quest for self-reliance. An essay by director of Kunsthalle Basel Elena Filipovic explores the double operation through which the artist both ‘locates and subverts’ themes ranging from art history to narrative climax and the possibility of historical reparation. And British painter Nicholas Hatfull considers Armitage’s compositional choices and landscape motifs, and how they connect to histories of empire and post-independence.