11 Nov 2022 – 15 Jan 2023
The works in artist Kenneth Aidoo’s debut solo exhibition The Affairs of Love highlight his longstanding interest in the underrepresented stories and positions of Black people. His portraits depict individuals in society, with particular interest in the colours used to describe Black skin. Where in previous years Kenneth preferred gouache and oil pastels, in this exhibition he chooses to express himself mainly in oil paint. By challenging himself with another medium, Kenneth marks a new direction in the continuous development of his own style.
Kenneth studied at both the Gerrit Rietveld Academy and The Netherlands Film Academy, driven by his dual interest in the visual arts and film. It is through the intersection of these two passions that he encountered the mentors and varied materials that have steered his current direction. Kenneth’s cinematic background is particularly reflected in the compositions in his paintings. His portraits are like film stills and snapshots emphasizing intimacy, emotion, and the feeling of confrontation. The camera’s ability for storytelling is an aspect that Kenneth incorporates in making his portraits.
For Kenneth, Black is beautiful and unique. In The Affairs of Love, Kenneth shows an intimate moment in his life. During his previous relationship there was a chance that Kenneth would become a father, in order not to weigh his heart he chose to transfer these feeling to the pencil and canvas. Questions about the precious moment of (possible) fatherhood, but also the responsibilities that come with this, have brought this series to life. Despite that his partner turned out not to be pregnant, Kenneth continues the series to research his own view on love.
Kenneth’s works draw from the qualities of black pigment and celebrate Blackness. He intensely uses black paint — sometimes on its own, sometimes times mixed with other colours to create textures. He investigates the effects that emerge, depending on his use of light and dark paint. Black is more than just a colour for Kenneth. It is a pigment deeply connected to the depiction of those of African descent, their appearance and their stories.
Critical of the often-suppressed presence of Black artists and imagery in art history, Kenneth creates to advocate for greater representation of this group of artists. ‘I am a Black man, I look at myself and I want to see myself. I seek representation.’ The works in this exhibition are a mix of historical and fictional figures, both from reality and from projections of his imagination. His inspiration ranges from the paintings of Kerry James Marshall and Chris Ofili to art and sculptures from Ghana.
Created during 2022 in Hama Gallery’s Artist in Residence, many of Kenneth’s works blend intuition, curiosity and faith throughout his creative process. He intuitively makes his artistic choices and paints quickly to satisfy his curiosity for the final result of his work. Faith and artmaking overlap significantly: ‘There is also a lot of art in faith and a lot of art is derived from faith. I think it is unique that I can also create myself, that sometimes [creating] feels sort of like of God’s spark. I hope the visitor feels that too when they see my work.’