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Michael Armitage: Paradise Edict, Royal Academy Review

The big ticket at the Royal Academy may be Hockney - but if you haven't got one, don't worry; there is another very good reason to go to Burlington House, upstairs in the Sackler wing.


Michael Armitage is Kenyan/English and this show is of recent work from Kenya. Elections, political corruption, violence, natural beauty, societal expectations of women are all explored in stunning visual stories.


Armitage's star has risen fast since leaving the Slade, but this was the first time I had seen his work. Assured, direct and extraordinarily powerful, this small show simply dazzles. Although younger children will enjoy the vibrant colours (and look out for the monkeys and frogs), this is really a show for teens. And we think they will love it. Five of the works have explanatory texts in the free guide which are worth reading, so do pick one up. The richness of the paintings' multi-layered narratives are enhanced by the extra information.


There is a room devoted to six contemporary artists who have influenced Armitage. Unless you have a particular interest in East African art, they mainly only highlight quite how good he is by comparison. And wow, he is superb.


Michael Armitage: Paradise Edict, Royal Academy of Arts 22 May–19 Sept.

Tickets: £13 adults, £11 ages 16–18, under 16s free. Very limited availability until end June. Click here to book.


Emily Turner, 19 May 2021