Vincent Haynes Bankett
Curator: Ashik Zaman Goethe-Institut Schweden April 23- May 25, 2023
Vincent Haynes. Photo: Max Li
One can remember a recent time in art that visibly favored the abstract in the realm of contemporary painting and sidelined figurative painters. That has since notably been changing around, rebutting at the same time the historical “whiteness“ of art, with artists of colour now being championed in an unprecedented way which in turn has duly been impacting the presence of the non-white body in painting.
What first struck me coming across Afro-German artist Vincent Haynes’s work was his interest in the visuality of power and its physical embodiment, notably emphazing non-white representation of official power, in a not demonizing fashion, which should ideally not visually bear novelty, but still for many of us will instinctually do. As a connected chain of thought there’s the notion of the structural filters and biases around the global mediascape that possibly impact our perceptions and “truths“ about power narratives and relations.
The title of this exhibition at the Goethe-Institut Schweden is Bankett, relating to a very specific “window“ and social scenario used here by the artist to survey and approach the exercise and waltz of power. About his work that also connects to a personal search, Vincent Haynes shares;
“In my paintings, I am very interested in the reiterating symbols and materials of wealth and power that surround the individuals posing as leaders and dignitaries in various ceremonial occasions. Often surfaces or composition inconspicuously come to the foreground of the painting and question the importance and the role of the subject in relation to ceremonial peculiarities manifested through symbols, materials, and ritualistic actions.
I’m influenced by existing visual sources like documentary and propaganda films, news broadcasts, and photographs, but I also consider my history, my experiences and my own imagination as sources for my image-making. A big part of my own history was laying in the dark for a long time, and I had no access to it. Through formal approaches in making these images but also through a critical interest in traditional Western-taught art history, and discussion and collaborations with artists of different political systems and traditions, new questions about my own identity and its relation to the privileged profession of being an artist in our current times are constantly being raised.”
Vincent Haynes. Photo: Nele Mohr