The exhibition titled ‘On A Darker Note’ features 12 new works by the London-based artist. The announcement follows sale of Slawn’s work in Sotheby’s Contemporary Curated auction, co-curated by grime artist Skepta.
We visited the exhibition's private viewing on the 3rd of October and were meet with large scale paintings of minstrel characters, similarly to those seen during America's Jim Crow Era. "The subjects of my paintings usually come from whatever I am feeling in the moment, but they also explore the politics of our world – some are based on very old racist cartoons." says the artist Slawn. The exhibition is a response to the blackface minstrel caricatures produced during the era of the Jim Crow laws of racial segregation in the US in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Combining spray paint, acrylic and oil stick, the works exaggerate the subjects’ facial features in a similar fashion to the racist cartoons that were used to mock the Black population in America. In Self Portrait (2022), seen above, the artist depicts himself staring out in angst with the background smeared in rough, chaotic marks; the white stars placed across the face are a reference to Boris Gardiner’s soundtrack for the 1974 film Every N**ger Is a Star. Whilst exploring the exhibition we were introduced to co-founders Kwame and Kobi Mintah who built Efie Gallery with the aim to champion African art in Dubai, with a focus on artists from West Africa.
Kwame Mintah, co-founder of Efie Gallery, says: “Slawn's rapid rise on the art market
shows no sign of slowing down. From working at the coveted skate shop Wafflesncream in
Lagos to collaborating with the late Virgil Abloh, creating work for Louis Vuitton and going
under the hammer at one of the world’s most important auction houses, this energetic young
artist tells compelling stories that cut across boundaries and cultures. As we continue to build
our portfolio of some of the most striking contemporary artists, Slawn is a tremendous addition
to Efie Gallery and we are excited to see what barriers he will break down next.”
Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Slawn now lives and works in London, UK. The self-proclaimed ‘scam
artist’ uses cartoon-like pop figures, bold forms, stylish shapes and vivid colours to create works that are playful on the surface but explores complex, challenging subjects. After co-
founding the popular Nigerian streetwear brand Motherlan in 2016 with fellow skaters and friends Onyedi and Leo, the artist uncovered his talent and passion for painting during the first
lockdown in 2020. With his vibrant personality and creative spirit, Slawn has quickly amassed a cult following of collectors, creatives and institutions, including the likes of Kanye West,
Frank Ocean, Louis Vuitton, Michèle Lamy, Skepta, Angelo Baque, Tremaine Emory, Iris Law,
A$AP Rocky, and the late Virgil Abloh.
The exhibition follows the sale of Slawn’s work Bobo n Jarrad Go To Church (2022) in the
Sotheby’s Contemporary Curated auction in London, 7 - 13 September, co-curated by the
British-Nigerian grime MC, rapper and producer Skepta. The auction also featured a work by
Skepta, Mama Goes to Market (2021), ‘tagged’ by Slawn; Slawn also created a site-specific
mural on view in Sotheby’s galleries during the Contemporary Curated exhibition.
View more of Slawn's work here Visit the exhibition for free Slawn: On A Darker Note
Sunday 2 – Wednesday 5 October 2022
Arab British Chamber of Commerce, 43 Upper Grosvenor Street, London W1K 2NJ