Tuesday, November 28, 2023

The Is of It: Ludovic Nkoth @ François Ghebaly, Los Angeles

François Ghebaly is excited to present Ludovic Nkoth’s latest exhibition, “The Is of It,” at their Los Angeles gallery. In this captivating show, Nkoth explores the concept of “home” and its ever-changing nature. Drawing inspiration from Ukrainian author Clarice Lispector’s novel “Água Viva,” Nkoth reflects on the transient and impermanent aspects of life while delving into themes of family, belonging, and identity. Through his vibrant and impastoed figures, Nkoth captures the fluidity of these concepts, inviting viewers to contemplate the fleeting moments and stories that shape their own sense of self. With acrylic paintings and watercolors produced during his residency in Paris, Nkoth beautifully conveys his diasporic experience while highlighting the universal question of what it means to call a place “home.”

The Is of It: Ludovic Nkoth @ François Ghebaly, Los Angeles

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Welcome to the comprehensive article on Ludovic Nkoth’s exhibition, “The Is of It,” at the François Ghebaly gallery in Los Angeles. This article will provide an overview of the exhibition, delve into the artist’s inspiration, explore the concept of home, discuss the artistic approach taken by Nkoth, highlight the fluidity and transitory nature of his work, examine the classically styled portraits featured in the exhibition, and analyze the theme of mirroring and reflections. We will conclude by linking the higher understandings in Nkoth’s art to lived realities.

Exhibition Information

Ludovic Nkoth’s exhibition, “The Is of It,” is currently being showcased at the François Ghebaly gallery in downtown Los Angeles. The exhibition will run from October 07, 2023, to November 11, 2023. Visitors to the gallery will have the opportunity to view twelve acrylic paintings and three watercolors created by Nkoth during his year-long residency at the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris. These artworks offer a captivating exploration of the themes of home, family, belonging, and identity.

Artist’s Inspiration

Ludovic Nkoth draws inspiration from a wide range of sources for his artwork. One notable influence in his life is Brazilian author Clarice Lispector, specifically her novel “Água Viva.” In this novel, Lispector contemplates time, language, and the artist’s connection to the present moment. Nkoth resonates with Lispector’s idea of seizing the “is” of a thing or a moment, which aligns with his desire to explore the transitory and impermanent aspects of life.

The Is of It: Ludovic Nkoth @ François Ghebaly, Los Angeles

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Concept of Home

Nkoth’s exhibition, “The Is of It,” centers around the concept of home. He invites viewers to reflect on what home means to them, whether it is a physical place or a fleeting idea. This introspection extends to broader notions of family, belonging, and identity. Nkoth’s own diasporic experience in the United States informs his exploration of these themes, resulting in vibrant and emotionally resonant artworks.

Physical Place vs. Fleeting Idea

Nkoth challenges the conventional notion of home as a static physical place. Through his artwork, he encourages viewers to consider the ever-evolving nature of the concept. Home can also be a fleeting idea, a moving image in the mind’s eye. This perspective invites introspection and contemplation of the fluidity of our own notions of home.

Exploration of Family, Belonging, and Identity

Family, belonging, and identity are recurring themes in Nkoth’s artwork. He uses his paintings to delve into these complex and interconnected concepts. By portraying vibrant and sensually impastoed figures, Nkoth captures the lived experiences and fictions that shape his own identity synthesis. Through his art, he invites viewers to reflect on their own personal histories and connections to familial and cultural identities.

The Is of It: Ludovic Nkoth @ François Ghebaly, Los Angeles

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Artistic Approach

Nkoth employs a combination of acrylic paintings and watercolors in his artwork for the exhibition. These mediums allow him to express his ideas vividly and efficiently. His choice of using acrylic paintings and watercolors reflects his desire to imbue his art with a sense of immediacy and fluidity. Each brushstroke and color choice contributes to the overall emotional impact of the artwork.

Influences from the Académie des Beaux-Arts Residency

Nkoth’s year-long residency at the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris greatly influenced his artistic approach for “The Is of It” exhibition. Immersed in the culturally rich environment of Paris, he had the opportunity to explore and refine his artistic techniques. The experience allowed him to further develop his understanding of color, composition, and storytelling through art.

Inspiration from the Château Rouge Neighborhood

During his residency in Paris, Nkoth spent time in the Château Rouge neighborhood. This vibrant neighborhood is home to multigenerational communities of West African expatriates. Engaging with these communities and hearing their stories of leaving their home countries to build new lives inspired Nkoth. He found their fluid sense of home and identity captivating and incorporated these experiences into his artwork.

The Is of It: Ludovic Nkoth @ François Ghebaly, Los Angeles

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Fluidity and Transitory Nature

One of the prominent aspects of Nkoth’s art is the capture of shifting moments and narratives. His brushstrokes and compositions convey a sense of movement and impermanence. This approach reflects his fascination with the transitory nature of life. Nkoth draws inspiration from symbolists and expressionists, particularly Edvard Munch, to create paintings that encapsulate the ephemerality of existence.

Capturing Shifting Moments and Narratives

Nkoth’s paintings in “The Is of It” perfectly encapsulate the fluidity of life. Figures are captured in the midst of shifting moments, inviting viewers to contemplate their perpetually changing nature. Two barefoot musicians on pause, a woman fixated on a distant point, and a joyful young mother all become part of Nkoth’s exploration of narratives in motion.

Influence of Symbolists and Expressionists

Symbolist and expressionist art movements profoundly influence Nkoth’s work. He draws inspiration from the sinuous linework and emotive brushstrokes associated with these movements. By incorporating elements of these styles into his paintings, Nkoth enhances the sense of emotional depth and introspection.

The Is of It: Ludovic Nkoth @ François Ghebaly, Los Angeles

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Figures Existing Within Canvases

Nkoth’s figures exist within the canvas. They inhabit the space, asserting their presence without the need for external validation. This approach exemplifies Nkoth’s desire for his artwork to prompt viewers to engage with it as mirrors. By providing a space for viewers to introspect and reflect upon their own experiences, Nkoth’s figures come to life within the canvases.

Classically Styled Portraits

“The Is of It” showcases a collection of Nkoth’s classically styled portraits. One particularly striking piece features a young girl in an orange dress and a white collar. Nkoth expands the figure on the canvas, capturing the reflection of her arm in the mirror. This meticulous attention to detail creates a dynamic and engaging composition.

Focus on a Young Girl in an Orange Dress

Nkoth’s artwork, titled “How to surprise a mirror,” places a young girl in an orange dress at the center of the painting. The vibrant colors and intricate details immediately draw the viewer’s attention. By emphasizing this central figure, Nkoth prompts viewers to contemplate the girl’s story and possibly connect it to their own experiences.

Expansion of Face and Figure on Canvas

In several artworks featured in “The Is of It,” Nkoth expands the face and figure of his subjects to encompass a significant portion of the canvas. By doing so, he creates a sense of intimacy and personal connection between the subject and the viewer. These expanded portraits allow viewers to enter into a dialogue with the artwork, exploring the emotions and stories behind each painted face.

Conveying Personal Histories and Reticence

Nkoth’s classically styled portraits convey personal histories while simultaneously embracing reticence. Though the figures appear open and vulnerable, there is an underlying sense of the ineffable nature of life experiences. Nkoth intentionally leaves room for interpretation, allowing viewers to project their own experiences and emotions onto his paintings.

Mirroring and Reflections

Throughout “The Is of It,” Nkoth presents his paintings as mirrors. He invites viewers to engage with the artworks, using their own past experiences as a means to reach a higher understanding. By gazing at the paintings for an extended period, viewers can project their thoughts and emotions onto the canvas, creating a dialogue between the artwork and their own subconscious.

Paintings as Mirrors

Nkoth’s paintings act as mirrors, reflecting the thoughts, emotions, and experiences of viewers back to them. By allowing viewers to see themselves within the artwork, Nkoth fosters a deeper connection between the audience and the paintings. The act of introspection and self-reflection enhances the overall impact and resonance of the artwork.

Reaching a Higher Understanding Through Personal Experiences

Nkoth believes that by engaging with art and reflecting on personal experiences, individuals can reach a higher understanding of the world around them. His paintings provide a space for viewers to delve into their own histories and emotions, allowing for introspection and personal growth. Through these reflections, Nkoth invites viewers to uncover profound essences of fiction and storytelling within their own lives.

Profound Essences of Fiction and Storytelling

Within the lived realities of viewers, Nkoth believes there lies a profound essence of fiction and storytelling. By engaging with his artworks and bringing their own perspectives and experiences into the viewing process, viewers can discover narratives and meanings within their own lives. Nkoth’s paintings serve as catalysts for exploring and understanding the unique stories that define each individual.


“The Is of It” by Ludovic Nkoth at the François Ghebaly gallery offers an immersive exploration of the themes of home, family, belonging, and identity. Nkoth’s artistic approach, influenced by his residency at the Académie des Beaux-Arts and experiences in the Château Rouge neighborhood, captures the fluid and transitory nature of human existence. Through his classically styled portraits and emphasis on mirroring and reflection, Nkoth prompts viewers to engage with his artwork as mirrors, reaching a higher understanding of their own lived realities. “The Is of It” serves as a powerful reminder of the interconnectedness between personal experiences and the profound essences of fiction and storytelling.

Source: https://www.juxtapoz.com/news/painting/the-is-of-it-ludovic-nkoth-francois-ghebaly-los-angeles/