SOAS University of London

Brunei Gallery, SOAS University of London

Routes: Five Artists from Four Continents

22nd January - 26th March 1999

ROUTES is an exhibition of sculptures, paintings and drawings, by five artists, with ancestral roots in four continents, all of whom currently work and live in Britain. Linked by their creative response to the tensions inherent in an environment where cultural spheres overlap, their prevailing values are determined by the host culture. The work unfolds some of the complexities, contradictions and potential that emerge from a cross-cultural society, and unsettles assumptions about the meaning of ethnic origin to artist's contribution to contemporary culture and experience.

Born in Ghana, Godfried Donker's series of studies and paintings From Slave to Champ, combines two elements: images from 18th century prints of slave-ships, with images of 'human commodities' who became, through boxing; sports or politics, key black figures during the last two centuries.

Hew Locke's charcoal drawings and huge cardboard construction, part boat, part shrine, made of corrugated paper, reflect his view on global commodification of culture and exoticism, and can largely be viewed as the epitome of Europe's effect on the American continents and surrounding Caribbean. Further information: Hew Locke's website .

From South Africa Johannes Phokela's deliberate use of classical European imagery, in mysterious settings, reflects the artist's concern with the psychological effect of iconography upon human psyche.

Born in Leeds, trained in Nigeria, Frances Richardson's pencil drawings and subversive wood carvings combined with paint and objects, explore the masculine and feminine qualities of wood, and refer to the human condition via the unpredictable gestation ingrained in the growth of a tree.

Juginder Lamba's fused Indian, African and British background is evident in his organic, and sensual forms which, whilst celebrating the power and beauty of nature, address a contemporary environment of survival, destruction and renewal. His sculptures function as instruments of meditation, mirrors capable of reflecting our potential.

The work and lives of all the artists featured, are informed by the diversity of their cultural experiences, but their respective exploration and development of a visual language, defies any particular cultural location. Their work, collectively, demonstrates that those who are able to speak in many tongues and from multiple perspectives, occupy the centre, not the periphery. Here the multiplicity of discourses, that constitute our contemporary culture, are seen to develop transnationally and transracially, and the very concepts mainstream and margin, are challenged.

A illustrated brochure of the exhibition is available, made possible with the generous support of The Elephant Trust.