Kajahl: Obscure Origins
Kinz + Tillou Gallery
59 Cambridge Place
Brooklyn, New York 11238
April 22 – June 18, 2017
Tillou Fine Art will present Obscure Origins, the first comprehensive solo presentation in New York City of paintings and studies by Brooklyn-based artist Kajahl. Curated by Larry Ossei-Mensah, this exhibition presents a focused survey of Kajahl’s portraits, which combine iconography from African, Asian, European, and Pre-Columbian traditions. The fusion of these symbols results in the creation of enigmatic artworks that foreground the forgotten past and reanimate minor artifacts of history into transformative assemblages.
Kajahl draws inspiration for his paintings from visiting historic sites, mining archives, books, museums and the internet, and then uses these resources to create new iconographic mythologies and narratives. This results in the manifestation of hybridized entities that he produces and transforms into grandiose figures. Obscure Origins spotlights this diverse cast of characters ranging from majestic deities, royal leaders, scientists, crypted like amphibians to seafaring explorers. Kajahl places these subjects in diverse habitats tightly occupied inside their own unique universe that radiate a mesmerizing and tantalizing effect.
He adroitly melds materials and objects in his paintings, blending together disparate elements to create a new fiction as the figures he depicts defy and obscure classification. For example, in Aquatic Submerged III, he paints an oxidized iron torso that seamlessly fuses into a jadeite greenstone bust. In Scientific Method I, we see a figure seated in front of what appears to be altered hieroglyphs, meddling with strange cadavers and undefined creatures. Here, Kajahl incorporates still life and portraiture to explore the outer limits of appropriation and identity.
Alongside these paintings, a series of small studies will also be included in the exhibition. Amulets, funerary effigies and fragmentary busts are rendered with a striking use of expressive brushwork, reflecting both his command of the medium and versatile ability to construct alternate realities through a variety of painting techniques.