NEWS: In Conversation – Joy Labinjo @ BALTIC | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Joy Labinjo, Talking into the night, 2019. Courtesy the artist and Tiwani Contemporary

We’ve all been there: it’s 2am at your parent’s house. You’ve tried and failed to get to sleep in a ridiculous bed – were single beds always that small? – and you’ve dragged out a family photo album to reminisce about your mum’s top ten worst haircuts.

It is this very sense of tangible, visual nostalgia that Joy Labinjo channels within her work. Utilising a recently re-discovered family photo album as her primary muse, Labinjo re-creates intimate scenes of close and distant kin. Her paintings flip from small, stolen moments of affection to kid cousins with larger-than-life poses, evoking a seemingly effortless sense of emotional intrigue with every stroke. It seems almost impossible not to study each painting at length: where at first the scenes seem jagged and unworldly, closer inspection brings out a depth of expression that can only be found within the blurred contours of an amateur family photograph.

By interweaving these pieces with subtle signifiers of her British-Nigerian heritage – her own upbringing in Essex, and her relatives’ lives in Lagos – Labinjo produces a body of work that is as wide-reaching and engaging as it is profound. On display at Gateshead’s BALTIC until Sunday 23rd February, the artist herself will be appearing to discuss her work at BALTIC on Wednesday 15th January, and we highly recommend that you visit with your own familial cohort – it might just evoke some lost memories.

Joy Labinjo is In Conversation with Elena Crippa, Tate gallery’s curator of modern and contemporary British art, at BALTIC, Gateshead on Wednesday 15th January. Her exhibition is at BALTIC until Sunday 23rd February

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