Hobson’s Choice: Kura Shomali at Jack Bell Gallery

13 April 2012 By

Paul Hobson, Director of the Contemporary Art Society, recommends his favourite exhibition of the week.

Kura Shomali at Jack Bell Gallery

5 April to 6 May 2012

13 Mason’s Yard, St. James’s, London SW1Y 6BU

Open Tuesday to Friday 10am – 6pm, Saturday 12 – 5pm or by appointment.


Jack Bell Gallery – for those of you who have not yet made a visit – overlooks the White Cube gallery in Mason’s Yard, St James’s and has a great programme focused on artists across the world but with a strong commitment to contemporary African artists.  It is always well worth a visit if you are in the area, offering something quite particular and often unexpected in the mix of commercial galleries in the West End.  Last night, the gallery opened the first solo exhibition in London of new works by a young artist from Congo, Kura Shomali.  Working across charcoal, gouache, ink, felt and collage, Shomali’s dynamic works on paper directly reference images created by well-known African photographers – Sammy Baloji, Samual Fosso and Seydou Keita – in a bristling, energetic style which reflects the chaotic street culture of Kinshasa, the hustling and bustling Congolese capital.  Stylised figures drawing on densely patterned African clothing and emblems – reminiscent of Ofili – some sporting globe-like heads, are rendered in part through collaged elements but  dissolve into patterned stains and flat abstracted forms, where different media contest representation.  Splashes of ink, dribbles and spattering of watercolour both obscure and are incorporated within the making of the image, whereas hand-written fragments of text – with political undertones – and scribbles of ball-point pen generate an urban, graffiti style aesthetic which reminds one of artists like Basquiat but has a distinct and unique personality.  A refreshingly different and highly enjoyable show from a gallery to watch.


Image: Kura Shomali, CASSIUS CLAY ALI BOOM BOOM YE, installation view, in collaboration with André Magnin. Courtesy the artist and Jack Bell Gallery.
Let us know what you think at membership@contemporaryartsociety.org