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Contemporary Painters: Michael Armitage, Georg Baselitz, Peter Doig, Chris Ofili, Raqib Shaw

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5 artworks

This room brings together five artists whose work critically engages with and expands the field of contemporary painting.

Despite their distinctively individual styles and often semi-autobiographical references, they all display a mutual contemporary sensibility towards global concerns such as race, identity, multiculturalism and post-colonial politics. Often referencing painters of the past, these artists share an interest in the process of painting itself while simultaneously challenging prevailing artistic orthodoxies, traditional techniques and use of materials.

Born in Scotland and raised in Canada and Trinidad, Peter Doig (b. 1959) is internationally recognized as one of the most inventive painters working today. His vividly colourful, expressive paintings elide past and present, personal and shared memories, the actual and the imagined, representation and abstraction.

Chris Ofili (b.1968) is a Nigerian British painter based in Trinidad whose paintings are renowned for their intricate layering and inventive use of media, such as elephant dung, resin, glitter and magazine cut-outs. His work examines both the contemporary and historical black experience.

Michael Armitage (b.1984) is a Kenyan born artist, currently living and working between London and Nairobi. Instead of a conventional surface, Armitage paints on Lubugo, a traditional bark cloth from Uganda that is more commonly used to make sacred or ceremonial fabrics. His paintings intertwine Western and East African narratives mixing local mythologies and personal memories with socio-political commentary.

The German-born artist Georg Baselitz (b.1938) reintroduced the human figure into German painting. In 1969, Baselitz began inverting his subjects in order to disrupt viewers’ perceptions in an attempt to distract from the motif and to draw attention to the formal qualities of the painting. His highly expressive, large-scale works and vivid colour palette emphasise the process of painting itself.

Born in Calcutta, India, the London-based Raqib Shaw (b. 1974) uses enamel paints to create intricate, jewel-like paintings that are often inspired by European Old Masters. Many of his opulent scenes are set against Kashmiri landscapes, where the artist spent his formative years. His complex scenes combine eastern and western traditions, fantasy and reality and autobiographical details.

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