Get Up Stand Up Now Is London's Essential Summer Art Exhibition

Aubrey Williams Estate

Get Up Stand Up Now: Generations of Black Creative Pioneers, at Somerset House, is this summer's must-see London art exhibition. Celebrating the past 50 years of Black creativity in the UK and beyond, this ambitious exhibition includes art, film, photography, music, literature, design and fashion. Visiting this exhibition is not a typical art gallery experience as music also plays a key role. Trinidadian DJ Jillionaire created an exclusive soundtrack that is streamed throughout the exhibition, bringing his take on the beats of calypso and soca, straight from the streets where he grew up to the sounds of Afrofuturism. And the exhibition is themeatic rather than chronological, powerfully showing the shared experience of the artists working in different mediums and at different times throughout the diaspora.

Horace Ové

The exhibition takes as its starting point, the radical Black filmmaker and photographer Horace Ové and his remarkable circle of Windrush generation creative peers. Horace Ové has long been admired for Pressure (1975), the first feature film by a Black British director and for his insightful photographs of Allen Ginsberg, Stokely Carmichael, Michael X, James Baldwin, Linton Kwesi Johnson, John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Michael X, who once claimed to be “the most famous Black man in Britain” as the self-styled leader of the British Black Power movement, is shown alongside supporters John Lennon and Yoko Ono in an unseen shot by Horace Ové, recently discovered in his personal archives. The activist lived in the flat above the Ové family and many of the British Black Power meetings took place in the Ové’s garden.

Armet Francis

Artist Zak Ové is the ideal curator of Get Up Stand Up Now. His Moko Jumbie sculptures, currently on display in the Africa Galleries in the British Museum, following their exhibition in the Grand Court in 2015, were the first major contemporary works by a Caribbean artist to enter the museum's permanent collection. Zak Ové says that Get Up Stand Up Now is an exhibition that grew out of necessity. His intention was to ensure that the work of his father Horace and contemporaries like Charlie Phillips, Vanley Burke and Armet Francis, is not forgotten and to show the incredible impact Black artists have had and continue to have on British culture. With that in mind, over 100 works from the post-war era to the present day are in this exhibition, from historic works and pieces from personal archives to new commissions.

BFI/Annabelle Alcazar

This show is accessible, entertaining and informative and a quick visit will certainly be rewarding. But time permitting, there is much to see, including several entire films. Horace Ove's 1969 brilliant short film, Baldwin's Nigger, features African-American writer James Baldwin and civil rights activist Dick Gregory discussing Black experience and identity in Britain and the United States. Ové’s close relationship with Baldwin is also shown in a number of intimate photographic portraits on display. And Horace Ove's gripping 1975 film Pressure, has themes that sadly still resonate today. The film depicting the life of a London teenager who joins the Black Power movement in the 1970s was due to be released in the wake of the 1976 Notting Hill riots. The scenes of police harassment were likely considered too controversial or incendiary so it was shelved for several years before its release by the British Film Institute.

Joanne Shurvell

In addition to galleries displaying historic works from Horace Ové and his peers, other rooms feature prominent contemporary artists like Steve McQueen, Chris Ofili, Yinka Shonibare, John Akomfrah, Sonia Boyce and Peter Doig. It was good to be reacquainted with Turner Prize winner Chris Ofili’s “Afro Lunar Lovers” (2003), a gorgeous small giclée print with gold-leaf. Likewise, Yinka Shonibare's works are another highlight. His sculpture "Revolution Kid (Calf)" created using his trademark wax batik fabric is on show along with "Self Portrait (after Warhol)" shown beside Zak Ové's sculpture.

Somerset House

Trinidadian artist Emheyo Bahabba (known as Embah, or grandpa), who died age 77 in 2015, had a huge impact on both Chris Ofili and Peter Doig, so it's fitting that there are works here by all three artists. A self-taught poet, painter, sculptor, and musician, Embah was an important role model to younger artists in Trinidad and he was a close friend of Chris Ofili’s after Ofili moved from London to Port of Spain, Trinidad, in 2005. In another gallery, Peter Doig's hand-drawn posters for a film club he started in Port of Spain with Che Lovelace to show classic films, have a strong connection to Horace Ové whose films have been screened at the club, with Horace giving talks there as well.

Alexis Peskine and October Gallery, London

An impressive number of works have been borrowed for this exhibition including some fascinating pieces by younger artists like Alexis Peskine, known best for his large mixed media portraits made from nails hammered into wood. But for Get Up Stand Up Now, he presents four striking photographs showing boys on a beach in Senegal wearing space suits made from tin cans and large food sacks.

Black artists stand on the shoulders of Horace Ové and his peers, making this thoughtful exhibition essential viewing for anyone who is interested in the art generated during a tumultuous period of British history as well as work by contemporary Black British artists today. And the artist's son Zak is a case in point with his own work in this exhibition and abroad this year. Zak Ové's sculpture, "Autonomous Morris" (2018), one of the standout pieces of this year's Frieze sculpture Park, is in Regent's Park until 6 October 2019 while his 40-piece sculptural installation "The Invisible Man and the Masque of Blackness" has just opened in the United States at LACMA and runs until 3 November 2019.

Jenn Nkiru

Get Up Stand Up Now: Generations of Black Creative Pioneers is at Somerset House until 15 September 2019.  On 7 September 3pm novelist Caryl Phillips will be in conversation with Jamaican dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson, chaired by writer Maya Jaggi.

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Aubrey Williams Estate

Get Up Stand Up Now: Generations of Black Creative Pioneers, at Somerset House, is this summer's must-see London art exhibition. Celebrating the past 50 years of Black creativity in the UK and beyond, this ambitious exhibition includes art, film, photography, music, literature, design and fashion. Visiting this exhibition is not a typical art gallery experience as music also plays a key role. Trinidadian DJ Jillionaire created an exclusive soundtrack that is streamed throughout the exhibition, bringing his take on the beats of calypso and soca, straight from the streets where he grew up to the sounds of Afrofuturism. And the exhibition is themeatic rather than chronological, powerfully showing the shared experience of the artists working in different mediums and at different times throughout the diaspora.

Horace Ové

The exhibition takes as its starting point, the radical Black filmmaker and photographer Horace Ové and his remarkable circle of Windrush generation creative peers. Horace Ové has long been admired for Pressure (1975), the first feature film by a Black British director and for his insightful photographs of Allen Ginsberg, Stokely Carmichael, Michael X, James Baldwin, Linton Kwesi Johnson, John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Michael X, who once claimed to be “the most famous Black man in Britain” as the self-styled leader of the British Black Power movement, is shown alongside supporters John Lennon and Yoko Ono in an unseen shot by Horace Ové, recently discovered in his personal archives. The activist lived in the flat above the Ové family and many of the British Black Power meetings took place in the Ové’s garden.

Armet Francis

Artist Zak Ové is the ideal curator of Get Up Stand Up Now. His Moko Jumbie sculptures, currently on display in the Africa Galleries in the British Museum, following their exhibition in the Grand Court in 2015, were the first major contemporary works by a Caribbean artist to enter the museum's permanent collection. Zak Ové says that Get Up Stand Up Now is an exhibition that grew out of necessity. His intention was to ensure that the work of his father Horace and contemporaries like Charlie Phillips, Vanley Burke and Armet Francis, is not forgotten and to show the incredible impact Black artists have had and continue to have on British culture. With that in mind, over 100 works from the post-war era to the present day are in this exhibition, from historic works and pieces from personal archives to new commissions.

BFI/Annabelle Alcazar

This show is accessible, entertaining and informative and a quick visit will certainly be rewarding. But time permitting, there is much to see, including several entire films. Horace Ove's 1969 brilliant short film, Baldwin's Nigger, features African-American writer James Baldwin and civil rights activist Dick Gregory discussing Black experience and identity in Britain and the United States. Ové’s close relationship with Baldwin is also shown in a number of intimate photographic portraits on display. And Horace Ove's gripping 1975 film Pressure, has themes that sadly still resonate today. The film depicting the life of a London teenager who joins the Black Power movement in the 1970s was due to be released in the wake of the 1976 Notting Hill riots. The scenes of police harassment were likely considered too controversial or incendiary so it was shelved for several years before its release by the British Film Institute.

Joanne Shurvell

In addition to galleries displaying historic works from Horace Ové and his peers, other rooms feature prominent contemporary artists like Steve McQueen, Chris Ofili, Yinka Shonibare, John Akomfrah, Sonia Boyce and Peter Doig. It was good to be reacquainted with Turner Prize winner Chris Ofili’s “Afro Lunar Lovers” (2003), a gorgeous small giclée print with gold-leaf. Likewise, Yinka Shonibare's works are another highlight. His sculpture "Revolution Kid (Calf)" created using his trademark wax batik fabric is on show along with "Self Portrait (after Warhol)" shown beside Zak Ové's sculpture.

Somerset House

Trinidadian artist Emheyo Bahabba (known as Embah, or grandpa), who died age 77 in 2015, had a huge impact on both Chris Ofili and Peter Doig, so it's fitting that there are works here by all three artists. A self-taught poet, painter, sculptor, and musician, Embah was an important role model to younger artists in Trinidad and he was a close friend of Chris Ofili’s after Ofili moved from London to Port of Spain, Trinidad, in 2005. In another gallery, Peter Doig's hand-drawn posters for a film club he started in Port of Spain with Che Lovelace to show classic films, have a strong connection to Horace Ové whose films have been screened at the club, with Horace giving talks there as well.

Alexis Peskine and October Gallery, London

An impressive number of works have been borrowed for this exhibition including some fascinating pieces by younger artists like Alexis Peskine, known best for his large mixed media portraits made from nails hammered into wood. But for Get Up Stand Up Now, he presents four striking photographs showing boys on a beach in Senegal wearing space suits made from tin cans and large food sacks.

Black artists stand on the shoulders of Horace Ové and his peers, making this thoughtful exhibition essential viewing for anyone who is interested in the art generated during a tumultuous period of British history as well as work by contemporary Black British artists today. And the artist's son Zak is a case in point with his own work in this exhibition and abroad this year. Zak Ové's sculpture, "Autonomous Morris" (2018), one of the standout pieces of this year's Frieze sculpture Park, is in Regent's Park until 6 October 2019 while his 40-piece sculptural installation "The Invisible Man and the Masque of Blackness" has just opened in the United States at LACMA and runs until 3 November 2019.

Jenn Nkiru

Get Up Stand Up Now: Generations of Black Creative Pioneers is at Somerset House until 15 September 2019.  On 7 September 3pm novelist Caryl Phillips will be in conversation with Jamaican dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson, chaired by writer Maya Jaggi.

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