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Upcoming in Accra: 'We Do Not Sleep to Dream' a solo Exhibition by Kelvin Haizel

25th January 2024 | Gallery 1957 Curated by Ato Annan

Gallery 1957 is delighted to present ‘We Do Not Sleep to Dream,’ a solo exhibition by Kelvin Haizel. This new body of work is curated by Ato Annan and follows a four-month residency with the gallery in Accra. Haizel's approach to abstraction borrows aesthetics from local paint shop environments, wherein different surfaces exist as a swatch board for paint samples. The inspiration and process behind these works is accumulative and imbued with a spirit of existential inquiry.

KELVIN HAIZEL | Through coloured lines #1, 2024 | Acrylic and edible clay on linen | 150 x 200 cm
KELVIN HAIZEL | Through coloured lines #1, 2024 | Acrylic and edible clay on linen | 150 x 200 cm

In this exhibition, what emerges are echoes of visual stimuli [abstractions], characteristic of specific interactions that the artist has had in cities across the world, which would have birthed an epiphanic moment. As described by Haizel, these moments may be linked to cursorily seeing someone engaged in the mundane gesture of wiping paint-mixing sticks onto a crusty surface or testing the resultant mix of paint on just any surface available in the paint store. The palpable abstract aesthetics generated, which serves as profound testaments to the transactional process, subsequently becomes the source of inspiration for the current body of works.

Within this specific body of work, Haizel is suggesting that dreams can assume distinct forms, materializing in a tangible sense. In poetic pursuit of such claims in his studio, Kelvin Haizel engages with these so-called “abstract aesthetics emerging from the transactional process,” through a distinctive set of conditions. A prominent feature is the build-up of textures. This happens when literal textures form over time due to the constant tests of paint swatches onto a particular point on the shop walls. In the studio however, this otherwise lengthy process finds expression in a fictionalised manner. As the bumps and ridges emerge, Haizel complicates the surfaces further by encoding textual interventions in Braille onto the surfaces of some of the works. This establishes a juxtaposition of tactile and visual markers – Braille, an inviting touch-accessible language and random fictionalised textures. It is necessary to state that Haizel has been delving into Braille for quite some time now and therefore these interventions have both an aesthetic and content-enhancing function. The intriguing element about this complex gesture is the fact that if one bypasses the inhibition imposed by the customary perception of 'traditional paintings' as sacred and untouchable objects and attempts to decode the Braille, they will be dealing with registers of fictionalised texture [free-formed, flowy, and randomly applied] and the structured, formal and information-laden tactile appeal of Braille which can only be fully accessed through a gesture that privileges touch.

In this manner, the paintings propose an operational vista where touch, vision, interpretation (and maybe mis-interpretation) converge. This invites audiences to engage with the multiple layers of meaning beyond the customary confines of abstractions.

KELVIN HAIZEL Yɛnkɔ kwae mu nkɔyi mpataa, 2024 Acrylic and edible clay on linen 240 x 200 cm 94 1/2 x 78 3/4 i
KELVIN HAIZEL | Yɛnkɔ kwae mu nkɔyi mpataa, 2024 | Acrylic and edible clay on linen 240 x 200 cm 94 1/2 x 78 3/4 i

For More Information, View Gallery 1957



Working in a variety of media that includes photography, painting and archival interventions, Kelvin Haizel investigates the ontological question - what is the object of an image? His practice combines personal inquiry and emergence as strategies of experimentation across time to comprehend the manufacturing of images. After a long hiatus from painting, the artist has returned to the medium to engage with a visual language that is abstract, yet materialist and fictional.

He is currently a PhD candidate at the Department of Fine Art and Curatorial Practice, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana. He earned his MFA (2018) and his BFA in Painting and Sculpture (2010) from the same institution.

Haizel’s solo exhibitions include: ‘Archive of Experiences’, 8th Hamburg Photography Triennial, MARKK museum, Hamburg, Germany (2022) and ‘Babysitting a Shark in a Cold room: Comoros Encounters’, Zurich, Switzerland (2019) for which he was the recipient of A New Gaze 2 prize for contemporary photography.

Group exhibitions by the artist include: ‘Beautiful Diaspora / You Are Not the Lesser Part’ Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, IL, USA (2022); ‘This is Not Africa- Unlearn What You Have Learned’ ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Denmark (2021),‘Tomorrow There Will Be More of Us’, Stellenbosch Trienniale, Stellenbosch, South Africa (2020); ‘Afrotopia’, Rencontres de Bamako, Biennale Africaine de la Photographie (2017); ‘OderlyDisorderly’, Museum of Science and Technology, Accra, Ghana (2017).

He was a resident artist at Hyde Park Art Centre in Chicago (2022) and a research scholar at Northwestern University in Chicago at the invitation of the Black Arts Consortium (2022). Haizel’s work has been featured in articles and publications including Monopol, Over Journal, and Contemporary And (C&).


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