John Murray
'Africa for Africans'

13 July - 13 August 2005

Michael Stevenson is pleased to present an exhibition of new works by John Murray. Murray is well known for his portrait and cut-out figure paintings. These draw stylistically on West African barbershop signs, in which objects are given volume or depth but set against flat colour backgrounds. Sometimes he enhances this quality by literally cutting out the figures, giving a sculptural quality to the works.

Murray's new body of work includes large-scale portraits of a number of African leaders, including United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan. Murray was attracted to painting Annan's portrait "because he is supposed to be the ultimate middleman, a symbol of independence and fairness". The portrait reflects a quiet and dignified statesman, painted in a monumentalised fashion, and once again given a sculptural quality with the addition of a cut-out painted steel frame. Murray will also present charcoal drawings based on newspaper photographs and exploring the subtlety of interactions between African politicians. The title of his exhibition, 'Africa for Africans', is taken from a two-panel text work that also proclaims, 'The rich get richer'.

Murray was born in 1973 and graduated from the University of Stellenbosch in 1996. He undertook a residency at the Thami Mnyele Foundation in Amsterdam in 2003, and has also participated in Thupelo and Triangle workshops in Cape Town and New York. This is his second exhibition at Michael Stevenson.

Kofi Annan


Paul Biya

Thabo Mbeki

Blaise Compoaré

Paul Kagame

Festus Mogae

Mathieu Kérékou

Olusegun Obasanjo


Robert Mugabe


Obiang Nguema Mbasogo

Joseph Kabila

The Rich Get Richer, Africa for Africans

African Heads

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