Songs about Roses: Ibrahim Mahama’s First Solo Exhibition in Scotland at Fruitmarket

IM-Ghanan-man. Courtesy of Ibrahim Mahama

Ibrahim Mahama, the Ghanaian artist renowned for his evocative large-scale, site-specific installations, will present his first-ever solo exhibition in Scotland at the Fruitmarket Gallery. The exhibition, titled “Songs about Roses,” will run from July 13 to October 6, 2024. Mahama’s works delve into the cultural and social effects of post-colonialism and global migration, making this a significant event for the Scottish art scene.

Born in Tamale in 1987, Mahama gained international acclaim at the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015 with his piece “Out of Bounds.” This installation featured the massive outside wall of the Arsenale clad in jute sacks, previously used as cocoa bean sacks and later by charcoal sellers. The sacks, marked with the names of their previous owners, embodied a visual history of production and trade, highlighting Mahama’s ongoing exploration of the life and dynamic potential of materials.

For the Fruitmarket exhibition, Mahama has collected materials from the now-obsolete railway built by the British in Ghana in 1923. This railway, originally used to transport minerals and cocoa, will be represented through large-scale charcoal and ink drawings, sculptures, and film. By bringing the materials and histories of this defunct railway to Britain, Mahama re-installs it on top of the railway in Edinburgh, blending past and present narratives.

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Mahama’s work is deeply political, embedding protest within his materials and methods. The exhibition title, “Songs about Roses,” is inspired by a song by the Scottish band Owl John, which critiques the superficiality of certain artistic expressions and calls for truth in storytelling.

In conjunction with the exhibition, a major new monograph will be published, featuring images of the installation and Mahama’s major works to date. The book will include new writings from Aby Gaye and Godelive Kasangati and an interview with Ibrahim Mahama. This publication will be available for pre-order soon.

Additionally, Ibrahim Mahama will host an artist’s talk in September at Fruitmarket. Details of the event will be announced on the gallery’s website.

This exhibition is supported by the Henry Moore Foundation, White Cube, and the Ibrahim Mahama Supporters Circle, including Emma and Frederick Goltz, Jill Hackel & Andrzej Zarzycki, Soo & Jonathan Hitchin, Suling C Mead, Dasha Shenkman OBE, and Mary Wolridge.

“Songs about Roses” is part of the Edinburgh Art Festival, which runs from August 9 to August 25, 2024.

Images © Ibrahim Mahama. Courtesy of the artist and White Cube.

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