Surveying 20 years of Jimmy Robert’s work, “Akimbo” deals intimately with the intersection between performance and performer, resulting in a fascinating window into Robert’s career.
Words by Alexander Stubbs. First published 19th October, 2020 at Leftlion.
“Akimbo”, Guadeloupean-born artist Jimmy Robert’s latest exhibition currently on view at Nottingham Contemporary, captures an important moment not only in the artist’s career but also the social moment we are living in. With work from across Robert’s 20-year career to date on show, “Akimbo” is asking us in no uncertain terms to consider the defiant nature of the human body alongside more intimate and performative themes.
Certainly the curation of “Akimbo” resonates with a prevailing sense of careful consideration. Entering into the gallery, Silk, two portraits taken from the work of Belgian-Romanian artist Idel Ianchelevici, hang facing both away and towards the viewer. It’s only when you walk around them that the exhibition begins to slowly unravel its multiplicity of perspectives; Untitled (Agon) maintains continuity with Silk in its use of stylistic elements of clean, flowing lines, yet builds upon this through the use of archival images and deconstruction of the original artwork. Here, Robert’s affection towards both art history and black history is seen through the archival image of Arthur Mitchell, the first Black ballet dancer to appear in the New York City Ballet. Choreographer George Balanchine made the, at the time, controversial decision to pair Mitchell with the white ballerina Diana Adams in a production of Agon; a historical moment for black representation in a white-dominated cultural sphere, Robert’s use of Mitchell’s body is a beautifully constructed celebration of the black male body.
For the full exhibition review, head over to Leftlion here.
“Akimbo” is available to view as a virtual exhibition here.