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Michael Armitage ‘You, Who Are Still Alive’ (2022)


Texts by Elena Filipovic, Nicholas Hatfull, Nakhane, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o
Edited and coordinated by Honey Luard
Designed by Studio Mathias Clottu (Mathias Clottu with Valérian Charmasson)
Printed in Italy, by Musumeci S.p.A, Italy
320 x 234 mm, hardback
113 pages, 94 illustrations
ISBN 978-1-910844-57-1
Published by White Cube and Kunsthalle Basel

A monograph on Michael Armitage, featuring the Kenyan-British artist’s hauntingly incandescent paintings from the last two years, is published on the occasion of his exhibitions at Kunsthalle Basel (May – September 2022) and White Cube Bermondsey, London (September – November 2022).


Addressing themes from founding myths and rituals to everyday heroisms and abuses of power, Armitage entwines imagery from various sources on irregular, stitched together pieces of Lubugo cloth, which often reveal holes and tears. A span of full-bleed details honours the cohesion between composition and texture, and a fictional email by South African singer, actor and author Nakhane answers back to underlying compositional tensions. An extract from award-winning novelist, playwright and essayist Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s recent epic The Perfect Nine (2020) grounds the paintings by Armitage in the foundational Gĩkũyũ quest for self-reliance. An essay by director of Kunsthalle Basel Elena Filipovic explores the double operation through which the artist both ‘locates and subverts’ themes ranging from art history to narrative climax and the possibility of historical reparation. And British painter Nicholas Hatfull considers Armitage’s compositional choices and landscape motifs, and how they connect to histories of empire and post-independence.

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Elena Filipovic is the director and curator of Kunsthalle Basel. Her writings have appeared in numerous artists’ catalogues and journals, as well as in anthologies on exhibition histories that she has edited, including The Artist as Curator: An Anthology (Mousse Publications, 2017). She is author of David Hammons, Bliz-aard Ball Sale (Afterall Books, 2017), and The Apparently Marginal Activities of Marcel Duchamp (MIT Press, 2016).

Nicholas Hatfull is a British painter based in Norfolk, UK. His art criticism has appeared in Frieze, Mousse and Apollo magazine.

Nakhane is an award-winning South African author, singer, filmmaker, actor and arts writer. They have contributed to Jalada Africa Literary Journal, Exhale, an anthology of African queer erotica, Another Man, Notion, New Frame and Arts24. In 2015 Nakhane wrote their first novel Piggy Boy’s Blues, set in their hometowns of Alice and Port Elizabeth. In 2018 they relocated to London to record and release their heavily autobiographical album You Will Not Die. They are currently screenwriting for film and TV.

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o is an award-winning Kenyan novelist, playwright, essayist and academic who writes primarily in Gikuyu. His novels have been translated into more than thirty languages. He is Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Irvine.

Michael Armitage

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