AboutFred [London] is delighted to announce Godfried Donkor's first solo exhibition at the gallery.
Donkor is an internationally renowned artist, who, since 1995, has had solo exhibitions throughout the world. He has been included in exhibitions in important public spaces in the UK, among others, Pin Up, at Tate Modern, London (2003/4); Around the World in 80 Days, at the ICA, London (2006); Trade and Empire: Remembering Slavery, Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester (2009); and recently, his solo projects have included, Story of a London Township, at Space, London (2009); State of the Union, T1+2, London; and, in South Africa, Olympians and Muses, at Afronova Gallery, in Johannesburg (2009).
He works primarily with paint, mixed-media collages, and printmaking, and has recently started using video. His dominant theme is the iconography of mass media. Mixing styles and imagery from the conflicting sides of the political and cultural divides, he examines creolization: integration and race as a creative force.
His images of scantily dressed black women or iconic athletes, for example, are often lifted from the worlds of fashion and advertising or from pornographic magazines. He places them against a backdrop of gold-leaf and prints of slave ships - fusing symbols of the eighteenth century with the contemporary: the slave trade with Trinidadian glamour girls; and juxtaposes these incongruous elements as a way of examining such issues as Capitalism, Globalisation and Liberation. The resulting paintings are about contradictions, and victimisation, the presumption of innocence - and ideals.
This exhibition also focuses on his long-standing fascination with the history of the sport and the social world in London, between the eighteenth century and the present; specifically, with the very different worlds of Glamour and Boxing. Black, Jewish and indigenous white working-class pugilists moved in the same circles as the European elite; and ladies of noble birth rubbed shoulders with the young women from the other side of the social divide; each seeking fame or the means to a living and a secure future. These were meritocracies, and as such were accepting of everyone, regardless of origin or social background.
To further develop this point, Donkor takes a fresh look at Lord Byron and his cohorts. Byron's love of the art of self-defence, and the glamorous and scandalous nightlife of the London he inhabited. The title of the exhibition The Fives Court references the space in 18th century London where Byron and his friends met to indulge their love of pugilism and betting. Byron's history, views and behaviour form a link that joins two worlds, outside of the restrictions of class, birth and race. Donkor features present-day Glamour girls accompanied by pugilists from the 18th century; a world, he says, that Byron would have loved.