This new exhibition brings together 15 of his large-scale paintings from the past six years, exploring East African landscapes, politics and society as well as a selection of 31 works by six East African contemporary artists. Here’s what critics have had to say about it.
The Guardian: ***** “Armitage doesn’t simply ironise the painting of paradise. His intense mystical colours promise it. Honesty and feeling blaze from these outstanding paintings of modern life. When values are so contested and culture wars keep invading culture, it’s important to recognise real brilliance when you see it. Michael Armitage is something very special, a true artist.”
The Times: **** “The Royal Academy is celebrating the phenomenal success of one of its recent alumni. A decade ago Michael Armitage completed his postgraduate diploma at the Royal Academy Schools. After that, he has told me, he could hardly get anyone to look at his work until, in 2015, a director of White Cube gallery spotted it. He was offered a solo show. And from then on his career — not to mention his prices — soared.”
The Arts Desk: **** “Armitage paints multi-layered images that seem to go in and out of focus. A passage of fluent realism, such as a shouting head or a bloody hand grabbing an ankle, will be juxtaposed with an area of sketchy abstraction or filmy ambiguity. You might think you’ve understood what you can see, but next minute things dissolve into uncertainty.”
The Telegraph: *** “The Nairobi-born painter’s lushly-coloured canvases are entrancing and odd – so why surround them with other African artworks?”
Culture Whisper: **** “Colourful and thematically dark, strange and absorbing, this is an exhibition well worth visiting. Armitage’s career is going from strength to strength. He is represented by White Cube and his works fetch huge sums. So, if you are not yet familiar with his work, this is the ideal opportunity to acquaint yourself with an artist who may well be on his way to becoming a household name.”
London Begins at 40: “Although it might not quite get the same public attention as the exhibitions by Tracey Emin and David Hockney with which it shares the exhibition halls of the Royal Academy, Michael Armitage’s Paradise Edict is every bit as impressive and thought provoking.”
Michael Armitage: Paradise Edict is on display at the Royal Academy of Arts until the 19th September.