The best of diverse art on display at the city’s art gallery

Madonna Metropolitan: The Death of Cynthia Jarrett, Kimathi Donkor 2005 will be meant to help start a conversation

The Wolverhampton Art Gallery celebrates the works of various black artists from the 1980s to the present day with the Black Art Collection Highlights exhibition.

With a collection diverse in style and medium, many works in the exhibition share a common theme, illustrating the social and political tensions that existed between black members of the public and governmental authority, as in Spirit of the Carnival by Tam Joseph.

At the same time, works explore the representation and identity of black people, such as Body Type 1 and 2 by Keith Piper and Auto-Portrait by Chila Kumari Burman.

‘Self-Portrait 1995’ by Chila Kumari Burman from 1992 is one of the exhibits on display

Wolverhampton Art Gallery senior curator Carol Thompson said the exhibition was an opportunity to show some of the many great works from the gallery’s strong collection.

She said: “Wolverhampton was a pioneer of this type of art at the time and, as a major gallery, was the first to give a voice to these young black artists and to be able to put on quite a radical show with the First National Black Art Convention 40 years ago.

“We decided to do this exhibition as we only had a small window between the end of the British Art Show 9 and artist and filmmaker Steve McQueen’s next exhibition in June and it was a great chance to use gallery space, especially with the Commonwealth Games coming to the area.

“With the cultural program coming out of the Games and the celebration of diversity and multicultural Britain, we felt this exhibition matched the aims and themes and we are able to show a selection of the works on offer.”

Visiting assistant Susan Chambers poses next to a piece titled Invasion by Lubaina Himid from 1992

Ms Thompson said she hoped the exhibition could inspire people through the creative works on display and the social and political ideology surrounding it and said she showcased the work the gallery was doing.

She said: “I think it shows how we respond and relate to our audience and present work that will spark a conversation and bring people together.

“The work we show is something that demands attention and we want to make sure everyone can relate to the art and participate in conversations about it.”

Inspirational pieces such as Tam Joseph’s 1982 Spirit of the Carnival will be available to view

The exhibition is free and runs until Sunday May 22 at the Wolverhampton Art Gallery on Lichfield Street.

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