Lakwena Maciver: I Remember Paradise  January 17, 2015 - March 22, 2015


Read Christopher Knight's review of the exhibition for the Los Angeles Times

"Just Passing Through" 2015, 12ft x 16ft mixed media on panel

Lakwena Maciver is a London-based artist exhibiting work internationally, in galleries and on the street.  Inspired by the seemingly universal human instinct for adornment of people, objects and spaces, much of Lakwena's work is an exploration of how this decorative instinct is outworked in popular culture and within the urban environment, and its use and power as a means of communication. 

Borrowing from the techniques and conventions of both traditional sign-writing and contemporary graphic design, and in response to mass-communication as a form of myth-making, Lakwena's frequent use of a combination of text and image re-appropriates the powerful and monumental visual language and lyrical mythologising of commercial advertising billboards.

Informed by decoration both aesthetically and conceptually, Lakwena explores the messages that decoration is used to communicate, its traditional use in worship and myth-making and how this translates into contemporary popular culture. Concerned with the significance of how and who we decorate, and what this reflects about our values and beliefs, Lakwena's use of kaleidoscopic colours, bold pattern and adornment act as powerful signifiers to redefine and reassign value and glory. 

On the theme of the artist as mythologist, in her series 'I remember Paradise', Lakwena uses the relationship between myth and adornment to explore the possibility that myths - expressed through films, paintings, songs, advertisements - carry 'echoes' of paradise, pointing to a past and a future glory which we only see glimpses of in the present. 

The 19th century poet Charles Baudelaire laid down the brief that artists should 'depict the heroism of everyday life…extract the epic from the kaleidoscope of appearances…distil the eternal from the transitory'. In today's image-saturated society where these words take on a new poignancy, Lakwena seeks to respond to this brief through her own cultural lens. With the increasingly vast number of images that we encounter in daily life, the epic nature of Lakwena's work forces us to stand for a moment and  look into one image, in a way pausing time.  Acting as either screens or mirrors, depending on your viewpoint, these works echo recollected memories about ourselves and our situation.

This project began in Miami and continued in Las Vegas, once described as 'a place of broken dreams'.  It is only fitting that it culminates in Los Angeles, home of Disneyland and Hollywood,  it seems appropriate for a project which seeks to add to contemporary mythology. The fact that Hollywood is like an adult version of Disneyland, and both are probably the two biggest purveyors of contemporary mythology in the world.