This autumn Bluecoat is pleased to share with their audiences a solo exhibition of new work by artist Rosa-Johan Uddoh in partnership with Focal Point Gallery, Southend.
The exhibition is free and held Bluecoat, 16 October-23 January 2022, 11am-4pm.
Uddoh is an interdisciplinary artist inspired by Black feminist practice and writing. She has previously featured at Bluecoat in 2018 in a live performance as part of her residency with Liverpool John Moores University and New Contemporaries.
They’re delighted to welcome her back with her first substantial UK touring solo show Practice Makes Perfect.
Practice Makes Perfect is focused on childhood education, how this forms an early understanding of Britishness and what within this is marginalised or left out. Responding in particular to current debates about Black history within the National Curriculum, Uddoh has approached the creation of new work for this exhibition as therapeutic ‘wish fulfilment’ in a time of uncertainty and tension.
The exhibition includes a major new work by Uddoh – a large scale collage – which investigates the historical figure of Balthazar. Balthazar, according to tradition, was one of the three biblical Magi and later a Saint, who visited the infant Jesus after his birth to offer the gift of Myrrh.
Depicted since medieval times as a lone black figure in the artistic imagery of the Nativity scene or ‘Adoration’, this King is often one of the first performed encounters by school children with a Black person of importance.
Historically, Balthazar is also a figure through which white artists and their patrons in Europe first constructed ‘Blackness’. Through her research, with the assistance of Nasra Abdullahi, Uddoh has found and catalogued around 150 historical ‘Balthazars’ previously featured in ‘Adoration’ paintings made throughout European history.
Thinking about the real, Black European sitters for these paintings, Uddoh’s billboard-style collage brings these Black kings together in friendship groups on a long march of solidarity to change the West.
The exhibition is also accompanied by a new publication published by Focal Point Gallery and Book Works in partnership with Bluecoat, Liverpool and The Bower, London. The book comprises a collection of scripts by Uddoh, each aiming to interrogate how a particular character in popular culture performs (and produces) Black British identity.
Presented as scripts, sheet music & instructional worksheets, the reader is encouraged to insert their own experiences and interpretations, in their head or through live performances of their own. Selected texts will also be exhibited as works on paper within the exhibition. The book is designed by Rose Nordin.