Ludovic Nkoth

Ludovic Nkoth reclaims history, power and identity with saturated portraits of defiance and distortion.

Nkoth’s blend of figuration and abstraction embodies his experience of growing up between Cameroon and the United States. He uses acrylic paint for his canvases, attracted to its fast-drying quality which guides his use of brisk, rhythmic brush strokes inspired by music he listens to while painting. Layering fabric and sand onto canvas along with fluid washes of pigment, Nkoth creates expressive tributes to his family and friends.

  • 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, group booth with Luce Gallery, London, 2020
  • The Medium is the Message, group show at Unit London Gallery, 2020
  • Art Basel OVR, solo booth with François Ghebaly Gallery, 2020
  • BLACK VOICES/BLACK MICROCOSM, group show, CFHILL, Stockholm, 2020
  • Parallels and Peripheries, group show presented by Larry Ossei-Mensah, Visarts, Maryland, 2019
  • Vicinity & Surroundings, solo show at East Projects Gallery, NYC, 2019
Mama it's Raining Again by Ludovic Nkoth
Mama it's Raining Again, Ludovic Nkoth, 2020.
Courtesy of the artist.
From a Dream by Ludovic Nkoth
From a Dream, Ludovic Nkoth, 2020.
Courtesy of the artist and François Ghebaly Gallery.

Recalling the work of artists from the Harlem Renaissance like Charles White as well as European expressionists like Egon Schiele, Nkoth’s paintings combine influences from the modern canon of portraiture with traditional pattern, colour and dress from his Cameroonian heritage. He also draws from the street life of New York, where he lives and works. Investigating colonialism, war and displacement, Nkoth reveals their profound effect on personal and collective psychologies.

In Search of Reparations by Ludovic Nkoth
In Search of Reparations, Ludovic Nkoth, 2020.
Courtesy of the artist.

Nkoth’s paintings are a celebration of Black pride and familial resilience. Small family (2018) is part of Nkoth’s Roots series, and shows a family of four wearing greens, blues, reds and yellows in traditional ‘toghu’ dress. The calm, rhythmic pattern of the wallpaper evokes the warm familiarity of shared domestic space, and contrasts the energetic abstract brushstrokes used to create the figures. Blurred and distorted, the family’s faces present a visual expression of the elusive memories from which the artist paints. As a whole, the group portrait speaks to Nkoth’s desire for familial unity and profound appreciation of collective cultural pride.

“The first thing I want the viewers to take from the work is the beauty of the Black skin and the things this skin stands for.”
Small Family by Ludovic Nkoth
Small Family (Roots Series), Ludovic Nkoth, 2018.
Courtesy of the artist.
The Last Note by Ludovic Nkoth
The Last Note, Ludovic Nkoth, 2020.
Courtesy of the artist and Luce Gallery.

Nkoth’s paintings are political since his very existence is politicised. Liminal experiences between the West’s systemic racism and the wake of colonial forces in Cameroon are the foundations of his practice. His unflinching confrontation of events like the civil conflict in Cameroon and the migrant crisis in Europe with paintings like The Fight For Ambazo (2019) and The Last Note (2020) illuminate the realities of the African Diaspora — dispersing the smokescreen used by the West to erase history and maintain power. Drawing from his dual experience as both insider and outsider, Nkoth uses the canvas to repair these histories by refusing to let dominant powers turn away from the wreckage of their own making.

All artworks and images courtesy of Ludovic Nkoth.
Studio shoot by Jack Pearce.

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