Liona Robyn | Parsons Fine Arts - 2019 BFA Thesis Exhibition

Zimbabwe, 1991
lionarobyn.com

"Blue," 2016 acrylic paint, spray paint, canvas 40 x 40 cm

"Blue (3rd Iteration)," 2016 acrylic paint, spray paint, canvas 40 x 40 cm

"Red," 2016 acrylic paint, spray paint, canvas 43 x 40 cm

"Red (6th Iteration)," 2016 acrylic paint, spray paint, canvas 43 x 40 cm

"African Juju," 2016 charcoal pigment, canvas, 75355 Dispersion K 19 Matte Acrylic Solution 65 x 34 cm

"Fungible," (Installation view) 2016 1 burnt tree log, 3 bags of charcoal

"Fungible," (Detail) 2016 1 burnt tree log, 3 bags of charcoal

"Fungible," (Detail) 2016 1 burnt tree log, 3 bags of charcoal

"/hoo/ /no/ /no/ /go/ /no/," 2016 Acrylic paint on wall 9 x 0.6 cm

"/hoo/ /no/ /no/ /go/ /no/," (Detail) 2016 Acrylic paint on wall 9 x 0.6 cm

Artist Statement

The project I engage with is the encounter of European/Western modernism in Africa and the kinds of pidgins – both linguistic and visual – that emerged from that within the post/modern and post/colonial discourses. My project begins to explore modernism in art during the 60s when decolonization began in Africa and with the emergence of liberation movements and ideologies. It is also the time when conceptual art began to proliferate along with the minimalist art movement in the West/Europe. My work looks at this history and quotes from it, steals from it, pays homage to, makes jest off, adds a pidgin to and complicates the ongoing relationship of Western/European modernism and Afro-modernism.
“Where is the pidgin?” Liona asks as she leans against the wall in her white square cube studio looking at the wall opposite her.
“Somewhere operating between the interstitial, coming out from within and tearing shit down!”
The pidgin in the extract above is the phonetic phrase /ho͞o/ /nō/ /nō/ /ɡō/ /nō/ which is also a text work with the same title. The phrase is from the song Who no know go know, by Nigerian singer Fela Kuti. A pidgin language is made up when two existing languages collide because of some form of cultural or economic exchange and the pidgin language bridges the gap between the two to create a rich hybrid language. The text piece is written on the wall with acrylic paint then covered with a coat of white wall paint to make it seem as if it is emerging/disappearing into the space, from the space. I am concerned with the pidgin that emerges from the Anglophone language and am interested in thinking through it with the language of abstraction in mind. My intent is to create something comparable to an abstract minimal pidgin that will become part of a larger lexicon.

Artist Bio

Liona Robyn was born in 1991, Harare Zimbabwe and is currently based in Brooklyn, New York. She holds an MFA from The New School (2016) and a BFA in photography from The University of Cape Town (2013). She has participated in group exhibitions in South Africa at the AVA Gallery, Young Blood Gallery, The Rockwell, Circa Gallery and The Castle. She is the recipient of the ABSA Art and Life Award, 2012 and was a finalist in the Sasol New Signatures Art competition, 2013 as well as a nominee for the Tierney Fellowship in the same year. In 2015 she co-curated a group exhibition called, Beyond The Obvious at 25 East Gallery, The New School and in 2013 she co-curated an exhibition called, #lookatmydickybird at Culture Urban + Contemporary Gallery, Woodstock Exchange, Cape Town.