Vigo is proud to present Lakwena Maciver’s Jump Paintings, abstract portraits of some of the most inspiring Basketball Players past and present.
Lakwena is internationally renowned for her joy- inducing palette, dynamic designs and profound, succinct messages. Her public art commissions and installations include those at Tate, Somerset House, The Bowery (NYC), Southbank Centre, Covent Garden, and commissions for MINI, Nike, UN Women and large scale architectural installations in Munich, Miami, Dubai and London.
‘I like the notion of the basketball court as a platform or a stage where the players become almost like superheroes… The heights that they soar to… it’s like they are flying, somehow able to rise above the limitations of this world. This is especially poignant for me given that basketball is indisputably dominated by African Americans, and their style of play has shaped the game.
I’m interested in what brings us closer together, so for me these paintings are about being aspirational, dreaming, and the connection between people, but also about the link between heaven and earth and ourselves as individuals in relation to a higher power.
The politicisation of the game is something I’m interested in exploring. The ‘slam dunk’ for instance, one of Basketball’s great crowd pleasers, could be seen as a physical manifestation of black power. So much so that it was banned in 1967 for 10 years, coincidentally after a year of Lew Alcindor’s domination of the game. I see these paintings as an opportunity to celebrate black power, joy, and self-expression.’
For this series, Lakwena took physical and biographical references as a starting point. Each is titled with the first name of the player and is the same height as the individual. They are painted on bespoke slim wooden panels and given a seductive, almost mirror-like gloss. This idea of reflection adds a personal interactive element to the viewing experience both conceptually and experientially.
The origins of these ‘Jump paintings’ stem from two full-size courts painted in 2020 in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, to honour Senator Flowers, whose impassioned 2019 speech against ‘Stand Your Ground’ legislation went viral and inspired Lakwena in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement the following year. Entitled ‘I’ll bring you flowers’, the defiantly joyful paintings used the universality of the basketball court as a canvas to speak of hope in the face of oppression and blessing through adversity.
In October, Vigo presented ‘Aerial BB Paintings’ in the courtyard of Somerset house as an interactive installation referencing inspiring mantras from the countries and languages of Africa and the Diaspora. At the same time and running until the end of April, Lakwena’s immersive intervention Back in the Air: A Meditation on Higher Ground curated by Claire Mander transformed Temple Station's Roof Terrace. This 1,400 sq metre contemporary vision of Paradise is viewable from the sky and in tandem with the Somerset House installation has contributed to Lakwena being the third most searched artist during Frieze London according to Artsy.
Lakwena’s output has been prolific in the last few months with her installations ranging from the re-opening of Covent Garden last summer to her fashion collaboration with Fiorucci in October.