Man drinking coffee

Joy Labinjo (1994 - )

oil paint and spray paint on canvas


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  • About the work
    Country: UK
    City: London
    Place: Downing Street

    Man drinking coffee, a portrait of the artist’s father, is one of a series of large-scale paintings that Joy Labinjo produced for her solo exhibition, As We Were at Bloc Projects, Sheffield in 2019. In her statement for the show, Labinjo observed:

    'I started this body of work out of frustration, going to exhibitions, seeing only white figures and the same story being told. I was studying in Newcastle, where I felt isolated. Looking at my family photo album was a way for me to have access to Black people and figure out where I belong.’ [The photographs] provide a departure point for me to think formally about my paintings: their composition, colour, how I arrange the figures... I put together collages, which I then manipulate or enhance to include patterns and colour.'

    Labinjo reinterpreted this collage approach through her painting’s eclectic visual vocabulary of colour and pattern. Man drinking coffee indicates a shift in her practice as she explores the potential of depth, tone and the textures of oil and spray paint, whereas her earlier works often featured entirely flat backgrounds. 

    Drawing upon mixed techniques and influences echoes her own sense of growing up as a Black, British, Nigerian young woman in the 1990s and early 2000s - of having multiple identities and places of belonging.  As she says, her paintings are ‘...deliberately ambiguous: mixing what is real and what is artificial ... I am interested in conveying the idea of being of two, or several worlds, of having multiple identities and belonging to all, feeling ‘whole.’

  • About the artist
    Born in Dagenham, London, Joy Labinjo lives and works in London. In 2017, she graduated with a Fine Art BA from the University of Newcastle, during which she studied at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, Austria. Her solo exhibitions include 'Our Histories Cling to Us' at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Newcastle-upon-Tyne (2019); 'Recollections' at Tiwani Contemporary, London and 'Belonging' at Morley Gallery, London (2018). Group exhibitions include 'The Everyday Political' at Cafe Gallery Projects, London (2018); and 'The Accumulation of Things' at Bonington Gallery, Nottingham (2018). In 2017, Labinjo received the Woon Art Prize, jointly awarded and presented by Northumbria University and BALTIC. Her work has been collected by the Musée d’Art Contemporain Africain Al Maaden (MACAAL), Marrakesh; and the Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minnesota.
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  • Details
    Man drinking coffee
    oil paint and spray paint on canvas
    Purchased from Tiwani Contemporary, with funds raised from print sales from the Robson Orr TenTen Award, a GAC/Outset Annual Commission, 2019
    Tiwani Contemporary, London UK; from whom purchased by the UK Government Art Collection, 2019
    GAC number