Vitruviano 16, 2019.

Home and Abroad

Multi-disciplinary Angolan artist Januário Jano moves between three continents to create work focusing on personal and creative histories

ART AFRICA spoke to Januário Jano, who was represented by Angolan gallery This Is Not A White Cube at ARCOlisboa this year, about his practice, upcoming exhibitions, and how his work that sees his traveling across cultures, better allows him to reflect on his past and present.

Januário Jano, Vitruviano, 2019. Courtesy of the artist & This Is Not A White Cube. Januário Jano, Vitruviano, 2019. Courtesy of the artist & This Is Not A White Cube.

ART AFRICA: You describe yourself as being interested in “exploring ideas of home and self”. How do you think this manifests in your work?

Januário Jano: I use the body has a pivotal element on my work to explore and rewrite personal and collective memories, the idea of home and self, bridge the way for a reflection into the past and present of where I am coming from and its historical, social, political and cultural fabric. With that central point of departure, I believe that manifests widely in my practice and work.

You work across the disciplines to produce work juxtaposing notions of modern and pop culture and traditional practices. What sparks your interest in this contrast?

The notion of globalized and cross-cultural dimension within my practice is something that I am interested in.  Sometimes I travel around the places, work and live between 3 different countries that have an influence on the practice, as each place has its own specific feed to it, that affect and influences me differently. For instance, some places are charged with the necessary energy to develop the narratives and to explore the physical, emotional and rational connection. Other places give me the speed to get things done and feed me with other elements that are the crucial base to spark my interest.

Vitruviano 16, 2019.Vitruviano 16, 2019.

What influences inspire this practice of yours?

I am seduced by the parallel between fiction and reality. With my work, I tend to create an intersection to navigate through different subjects around the body, its materiality, and representation – and above all, my upbringing.

Your work was represented by Angolan gallery This Is Not A White Cube at the fourth edition of ARCOlisboa, the Lisbon-based contemporary art fair, which had an inaugural “Africa in Focus” section for this year, featuring galleries and projects referring to the African continent’s artistic output. What does this effort to include the African continent in the fair represent to you?

It seems to help push the already loud conversation about Africa and what is happening in the continent, by diversifying the dialogue within the structure of the fair, it provided an open channel for artists, galleries and other operators within the art and cultural sector to expand their presence and access to a new audience which has facilitated the creation of new experiences and cultural exchanges.

Vitruviano 8, 2019.Vitruviano 8, 2019.

Do you have any upcoming exhibitions in the works?

I am in the final year of my master’s program (MFA in Fine Art) at Goldsmiths, University of London, and that is my main project for this year. On the side, I am working on two long-term projects which I will reveal soon. Besides all that, I have been included in a group exhibition at Primo Marella Gallery in Milan. Also, I will be showing at Beirut Art Fair in September, followed by returning to 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair at Somerset House in London and in November I will be Turin for the Artissima Art Fair, in which I have been included in a special project section for this edition of the fair.

Zahra Abba Omar