Amadlozi Gallery at African Heritage Cultural Arts Center in Collaboration with Kloser Contemporary Art & El Espacio Twenty 23 presents ANCESTOR: Kiro Urdin

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Upon receiving the invitation to exhibit his recent work at the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center of Miami in ANCESTOR, Kiro Urdin, a Macedonian artist and filmmaker, decided to revisit his unique and personal artistic and human journey with the continent. In this introspective and poetic show, the artist explores his memories and recordings of images captured along a thirty-year relationship with Africa as experienced by his numerous travels to Mali, Kenya, South Africa, Senegal, and Nigeria, but most of all through his recurring stays in Tanzania, where he directed several experimental films over the past two decades. Urdin’s relationship with Africa goes deep and beyond, in the sense that it triggered a fundamental research about origin and universality in both his work and philosophy.

Kiro Urdin, Tabula Rasa 2

Amadlozi Gallery at the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center in Collaboration with Kloser Contemporary Art & El Espacio Twenty 23 presents ANCESTOR, featuring award-winning multi-media artist Kiro Urdin’s work, on view to the public April 22 through May 31, 2023. South Florida collectors and art aficionados are cordially invited to the Opening Reception from 6 – 9pm and Artist Talk from 4 – 6pm on Saturday, April 22nd at the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center, located at 6161 NW 22 Avenue in Miami, Florida 33142. The Artist will be available in-person at the exhibit opening; the Artist Talk will be a conversation with Kiro Urdin and Klaus Pas, Curator of Kloser Contemporary Art. The Opening Reception & Artist Talk are free to attend and open to the public, reserve a space for the Artist Talk at 4pm HERE.

Kiro Urdin, Dogon Genesis (2023), 120 x 160 cm.

“To understand how the 78-year-old French artist, originally from North Macedonia, truly finds his place at the avant-garde of contemporary art, rather late in his career, it is paramount to retrace his experience with Africa, and reciprocally with the world at large. Key to his exploration of the self and what it means to be an artist is a ground-breaking performance painting that would put Urdin in the limelight in 1995, the year he finishes Planetarium, a 48 square meter canvas that he painted all over the world. The first global painting of its kind, Planetarium subsequently gave birth to a ballet presented at United Nations in XX, for its 60th anniversary and directed by Canadian choreographer Debbie Wilson. Leaving Belgium in XX with a massive blank canvas on his back, and a TV film crew following his performance, Kiro Urdin would soon leave European shores to visit Maasai tribes in Kenya. Facing an overwhelming cultural divide while trying to convey the ambition of his global artwork, Urdin was forced to consider what universal truly means when it comes to art. For it is often said that great art is truly universal. And one might easily agree with that statement, except for the fact that however great Da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi may be, it is truly anchored into Christian concerns of Renaissance sacrality.”

Kiro Urdin, Ancestor (2022), 200 x 150 cm.

“So, for his art to be fundamentally universal, Urdin would have to deconstruct the style he had been building since the mid-80s when he nonchalantly started painting on the Place du Tertre in Paris. At first expressionistically figurative, the artist later developed an increasingly abstracted approach to portraiture yet remaining in the realm of the human figure. And Planetarium consequently marks a necessary evolution towards his now widely recognizable abstract expressionist style, without which he would possibly never have achieved his core mission of creating and artwork that englobes true universality, common to all people, whatever their culture and artistic backgrounds.”

Kiro Urdin, Ex-Voto (2022), 180 x 140 cm.

“As part of this new exhibition, the artist has decided to show three of his award winning films that will shed light on the various inspirations which nourish his work ever since he set foot on African soil. In chronological order, these are Planetarium (1998), Dogona (2002) and the recently finished Before and After (2022), which he shot in Tanzania over several seasons, and which like his paintings attempts to represent the universality of life. Urdin’s Dogona experience led to an ensemble of epic works inspired by the Dogon cosmogony, which are now part of international art collections. However, for this new show at the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center, Kiro Urdin revisited some of the iconography he developed in the Dogon corpus, all the while injecting fresh elements borrowed from his passion for traditional sacred African art, as can be observed in his dynamic vertical canvas titled Anyanwu, a cosmic homage to the Igbo solar deity of Nigeria, which so famously inspired the great modernist Odinigwe Benedict Chukwukadibia Enwonwu MBE, better known as Ben Enwonwu. Equally of Nigerian influence is his barely figurative Mumuye (2023), in which shadows seem to seamlessly blend the essential lines of Mumuye hairdos from the Benue River Valley region with echoes of the reappropriated Black Infanta Margarita by Spanish artist Manolo Valdés – a proof that some lines are universally immortal.”

Kiro Urdin, Spirit (2022), 200 x 150 cm.

“During his residency at El Espacio Twenty Three, Kiro Urdin will get a chance to create a new monumental work which meant to cover the walls of the Amadlozi Gallery. Knowing the artist’s process, it is pointless to speculate what this work may represent. Inspiration will surely stem from his experience in Miami. Together, these works aim to convey a sense of openness. Far from trying to define any form of identity, Kiro Urdin invites us to think beyond any defined border. Humanity is one. What he assembles with these paintings and films is by no means a portrait of Africa, its peoples, or its spirits and ancestors. It should rather be absorbed as an experimental distillate of the artist’s physical and philosophical journey which he needs to exist, and uses to meet us, and share.” –Klaus Pas, Curator.

*passages are excerpts taken from Klaus Pas’ written introduction of ANCESTOR: Kiro Urdin at the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center.

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