Thinkspace Projects presents:
Thinkspace Projects presents Oscar Joyo’s Ubuntu. A continuation of his show with the gallery last year, HYBRID, this exhibition appreciates and reimagines the artist’s time in Malawi and current experiences in Chicago.
This body of work is a continuation of my last year’s show, HYBRID with Carl Cashman, at Thinkspace. While that show stemmed from a place of recovering from years of mourning the passing of both my grandmothers, this collection is more about appreciating and reimagining my time in Malawi and my current experiences in Chicago.
Viewers will notice a significant increase in texture throughout this collection. From the subjects’ hair to the ceramic plant holders, introducing more texture has heightened the sensory experience, reflecting my life as an immigrant. The people I’ve painted serve as representations of individuals or elements from my everyday life that have not only influenced my artistic direction but have also shaped how I perceive the world.
The world I’ve constructed, featuring large plants and vibrant skies, also draws from my family’s farming background and the way they built a community through agriculture. The prominent leaves depicted in this collection are tobacco leaves, which serve as one of Malawi’s main exports.
UBUNTU or “Umunthu” in Chichewa translates to “humanity towards others” or “We are because you are.” One of the many lessons I’ve learned between last year and now is how finding a family or community and the values they instill in you can yield a harvest that lasts for years.
Oscar Joyo (b. 1992) is a Malawian-born, Chicago-based artist. His artistic style blends Afrofuturism with Afrosurrealism. Oscar’s passion for art ignited during his childhood in Malawi, where he began drawing cartoons. This love for art accompanied him to Chicago, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Life Drawing from The American Academy of Art in 2015. Shortly after graduation, he honed his distinctive technique and style, characterized by tribal patterns and vibrant portraiture.
His primary medium is acrylic, dominating most of his portfolio, yet he also explores other media to enrich his pieces. Oscar credits his chromesthesia (the ability to see colour through sounds) for influencing his use of diverse colour gradients and intergalactic colour schemes. He pays homage to his Malawian heritage by infusing patterns that animate his paintings.
Since evolving his approach to portraiture, Oscar has expanded his scope by integrating figures, environments, and diverse techniques, broadening his interpretation of the world. Drawing from personal experiences as an immigrant and a Black man in modern society, he incorporates elements from his fondness for anime and music into his figures.
Oscar is currently an active artist and muralist. His artworks have been displayed in various Chicago galleries, including Vertical Gallery and A Very Serious Gallery. Additionally, his pieces have been showcased in galleries such as UHF Gallery and the Congressional Art Exhibition in South Korea.
His creations serve as a tribute to his African heritage and reflect a hopeful vision for a better future for people of colour.