Projects 110: Michael Armitage

21 Oct 2019 – 20 Jan 2020

Regular hours

10:30 – 17:30
10:30 – 17:30
10:30 – 17:30
10:30 – 17:30
10:30 – 17:30
10:30 – 19:00
10:30 – 17:30

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MoMA Museum of Modern Art

New York
New York, United States


Travel Information

  • From the east side of Manhattan M1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 to 53rd Street From the west side of Manhattan M50 cross-town to 50th Street. Proceed to 53rd Street.
  • From the east side of Manhattan 6 train to 51st Street, transfer to the E or M train; one stop to 53rd Street and Fifth Avenue From the west side of Manhattan E or M train to 53rd Street and Fifth Avenue, or B, D, or F train to 47-50 Street Rockefeller Center
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Projects 110: Michael Armitage presents eight paintings that, in the artist’s words, explore “parallel cultural histories.”


Here, as in his work more widely, Armitage puts contemporary visual culture in dialogue with art history and the legacy of modernism as it veers toward—and breaks from—the West. Born in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1984, Armitage received his artistic training in London. Today, he travels between London and Nairobi, citing each city as crucial to his creative practice.

Armitage draws inspiration from both European avant-garde artists and East African modernists such as Meek Gichugu (b. 1932, Ngecha, Kenya), Chelenge (b. 1961, Kericho, Kenya), and Jak Katarikawe (c. 1938–2018, Kampala, Uganda). The pull of East African culture is evident not only in Armitage’s visual vocabulary but in his use of lubugo, a fabric made from fig-tree bark, in lieu of canvas as a support for his paintings. First encountered by the artist in a Nairobi tourist market in 2010, the cloth is Ugandan in origin. In this mix of materials and cultural influences, Armitage celebrates a living lineage of narrative, abstraction, and color, creating an homage to the rich and complicated history of painting.

Across this body of work, the artist oscillates between the real and the surreal, the celebratory and the sinister. He merges memories of Kenya with media depictions of East Africa, entangling the personal and the everyday in a web of social and political tensions. Through these compositions, Armitage considers how political reportage, African bodies, and the body politic circulate within systems of global capital, highlighting the fraught relationship between Africa and the West.

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Michael Armitage


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