Joseph Olisaemeka Wilson has an acute awareness and concern about ecological change and extinction underpin a new body of work. These predominantly large scale paintings suggest that extraction; possession and accumulation are the modus operandi of the “survival of the fittest”
On first impressions the works in Everything Goes Scatter feel dystopic, but the world we’re witnessing is actually not so unfamiliar, and reveals itself to be an allegory about our present moment. Tensions, anxieties and flights of survival hold together improvised coping strategies and spiritual invocations which are enacted by a hybrid cast through routines and rituals that get them through one day to the next.
Wilson’s polymorphic practice draws references from American popular culture, modern art and African folklore, largely exploring themes related to colonialism, archaeology and futurism, the artist collapses these narratives to create immersive universes where exoskeletons, humans, machines, animals and spirits joust or ritual dance in a syncretism that testifies to the artist’s overflowing imagination.
Says the artist: “I don’t have any narrative goal in mind as I work, although there are characters who do reappear. More often, the story writes itself as the characters and elements are introduced. These characters, and any of the content in the paintings, are part of a language that I use to write the scene. I expect these to change and develop over time.”
See these works - on view at Tiwani Contemporary - until 6 March.