Arcmanoro Niles shines a positive light on our perceived failures

Kicked Out the House for Living Fast (I Never Held Love in My Gaze So I Searched for it Every Couple of Days), 2021, by Arcmanoro Niles
Kicked Out the House for Living Fast (I Never Held Love in My Gaze So I Searched for it Every Couple of Days), 2021, by Arcmanoro Niles © Courtesy Arcmanoro Niles and Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong, Seoul and London
Running Until You’re Nothing Sounds a Lot Like Being Free (Don’t be Sad), 2021, by Arcmanoro Niles
Running Until You’re Nothing Sounds a Lot Like Being Free (Don’t be Sad), 2021, by Arcmanoro Niles © Courtesy Arcmanoro Niles and Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong, Seoul and London

The neon-toned canvases of New York-based painter Arcmanoro Niles show people engaged in seemingly mundane acts, often accompanied by small, alien-like creatures. These supernatural beings – which Niles refers to as “seekers” – act as manifestations of the subjects’ primal impulses and desires, inviting the viewer to imagine what events might have occurred around the scene. One painting shows a woman waiting at a bus stop, while a gremlin-like seeker with fiery pink eyes wields a knife in the corner; in another, a father and daughter sit on their stoop with their dog while a bawdy creature lurks in the background. 

Now a new body of Niles’s work is being collected into a book and exhibited at New York’s Lehmann Maupin gallery. Featuring a series of portraits and still lives, as well as the artist’s first landscape, the works show our perceived failures: a still life of a bedside table strewn with tequila bottles and receipts; a man getting into his car after being kicked out of his house, his iridescent gold skin and hair daubed with pink glitter lending the painting a numinous quality. “All of these moments in life that people look at as failures are just a part of growing up,” Niles says. “When I look back at my own experiences, they weren’t really failures at all.”

Arcmanoro Niles: Hey Tomorrow, Do You Have Some Room For Me: Failure Is A Part Of Being Alive is at Lehmann Maupin, New York, until 28 August; accompanying book, $25


The still life and the studio in Ben Nicholson’s work

Still Life – Cerulean, 1946, by Ben Nicholson
Still Life – Cerulean, 1946, by Ben Nicholson © Pallant House Gallery, Chichester (Kearley Bequest, through Art Fund, 1989) © Angela Verren Taunt. All rights reserved, DACS 2021
Ben Nicholson’s Studio, London, 1982, by John Webb
Ben Nicholson’s Studio, London, 1982, by John Webb © The Late John Webb FRPS

“I owe a lot to my father,” wrote Modern British artist Ben Nicholson of the Edwardian artist William Nicholson. “Not only from what he made as a painter, but from the very beautiful striped and spotted jugs and mugs and goblets, and octagonal and hexagonal glass objects he collected. Having those things in the house was an unforgettable early experience for me.” 

A new show at Chichester’s Pallant House Gallery, Ben Nicholson: From the Studio, explores the influence of these still-life objects on Nicholson’s practice, pairing more than 40 paintings, carved reliefs and works on paper with the ceramics and glassware that inspired them. The exhibition also looks at the influence of the various studios and places in which Nicholson worked, from the simple domesticity of the Swiss villa where he spent the early years of his marriage, to his home in St Ives, Cornwall, where he began producing his famous still-life landscapes.

Ben Nicholson: From the Studio is at Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, until 24 October


The personal and the political mingle in Arthur Timothy’s new show

Grandma’s Hands, 2021, by Arthur Timothy
Grandma’s Hands, 2021, by Arthur Timothy © Courtesy Arthur Timothy and Gallery 1957

British painter and architect Arthur Timothy spent his early childhood in Accra, Ghana, among a distinguished family of politicians, lawyers and journalists, before he was deported along with his family to Sierra Leone, following his father’s outspoken criticism of the then-Ghanaian president Kwame Nkrumah, with whom he had once been friends. The paintings in his new exhibition, Grandma’s Hands, at Gallery 1957 in Accra, explore these formative personal and political experiences, inspired by an archive of black and white photographs found among his father’s papers. One work shows Timothy’s late father at work for Ghana’s leading Daily Graphic paper, another depicts the cabinet of Nkrumah, and one dramatic painting shows Timothy’s aunt Mabel Dove Danquah, a prominent journalist, political activist and Ghanaian feminist on the steps of the Ghanaian Embassy in London.

The show, which has been co-curated by the former director of London’s ICA, Ekow Eshun, is a vivid and joyful re-examining of the postcolonial African life that Timothy grew up in. It also marks the artist’s first show in the country of his birth.

Grandma’s Hands is at Gallery 1957, Accra, from 28 August to 1 October


Tyler Mitchell looks back to his roots in the American South

Riverside Scene, 2021, by Tyler Mitchell
Riverside Scene, 2021, by Tyler Mitchell
Albany, 2021, by Tyler Mitchell
Albany, 2021, by Tyler Mitchell

Atlanta-born photographer Tyler Mitchell rose to fame at the age of 23 when he became the first black photographer to shoot the cover of American Vogue, photographing Beyoncé for 2018’s September issue. Since then, he has gone on to shoot campaigns for JW Anderson and Prada, and he photographed the US vice president, Kamala Harris, for Vogue this year. Now he is turning his lens on families in Georgia for a new series that will debut at New York’s Jack Shainman Gallery this month.

Exploring ideas of community and the American South, the works capture subjects engaged in leisurely pursuits: lazing on top of a picnic blanket or painting on the sun-dappled banks of a river. The latter is a tableau reminiscent of Georges Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, and subverts art historical notions of outdoor leisure as the preserve of white gentry. “I was trying to get to the very root of what it felt like growing up in the American South,” Mitchell tells How To Spend It. “I wanted to unlock or reimagine certain possibilities about what black safe space can look like.”

Tyler Mitchell: Dreaming in Real Time is at Jack Shainman Gallery, New York, from September 9 to October 30


Rachel Kneebone’s porcelain sculptures address life, birth, growth and death

Quill, 2021, and Raft of the Medusa VIII, 2015, by Rachel Kneebone
Quill, 2021, and Raft of the Medusa VIII, 2015, by Rachel Kneebone © Rachel Kneebone. Photo © White Cube (Stephen White)

In Raft, Rachel Kneebone’s show at White Cube Mason’s Yard, the British artist presents a new body of sculptures and works on paper, titled after the French Romanticist Théodore Géricault’s monumental 19th-century painting The Raft of the Medusa, which depicts survivors and bodies adrift at sea. Her own sculptures of writhing limbs, torsos and tendrils of intricate porcelain are concerned, she says, “with inhabiting the body, what it is to be alive in the world”.

As with Kneebone’s previous critically-acclaimed shows, Raft explores the extremes of human experience: pain and pleasure, movement and stasis, birth and death. It coincides with a major new work on display at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park: a monumental column of bodies titled 399 Days, for the amount of time it took to make.

Raft is at White Cube Mason’s Yard, London, until 4 September


A group show in London exploring the black female experience

Nanabaa, 2021, by Emma Prempeh
Nanabaa, 2021, by Emma Prempeh © Courtesy Emma Prempeh, ADA and HOFA
While We Wait, 2021, by Sophia Oshodin
While We Wait, 2021, by Sophia Oshodin © Courtesy Sophia Oshodin, ADA and HOFA

Eighteen emerging women artists are brought together to consider different representations of the black female figure in Mother Of Mankind, a group show at London’s HOFA Gallery on Bruton Street. Curator Adora Mba has gathered work from across Africa and its diaspora, including Nigeria, Ghana, Canada, the UK and France. “The women presented in this show are in the early days of their artistic careers,” says Mba, “yet already making waves and drawing attention in an industry that tends to be more supportive of their male counterparts”.

Highlights include the silhouetted figures and textile-inspired patterns of Washington-based artist Jamilla Okubo’s acrylic paintings; London-based Sophia Oshodin’s figurative works on female friendship, domesticity and clothing; and British-Nigerian artist Tobi Alexandra Falade’s tonal oil paintings exploring ideas of African identity.

Mother Of Mankind is at House of Fine Art, London, from 22 July to 31 August

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