In 2019, Autograph commissioned four new unique works on paper by the artist Lina Iris Viktor, for the exhibition Some Are Born To Endless Night — Dark Matter. Collectively titled Dark Testament, the works have now entered Autograph's collection.
Viktor draws on a variety of artistic traditions and visual influences in her work, from European portraiture, classical mythology and astronomy, to ancient Egyptian and African symbolism. Combining photography, performance, painting and sculpture with ancient gilding techniques, she creates intricate, densely layered surfaces characterised by her ritualistic use of 24-karat gold leaf. In this commission, a solitary female figure is visualised in a monochromatic landscape illuminated by gilded solar and lunar symbols. The figure is the artist’s own form, her body shrouded in deep, matt black paint, her hair golden; at times contemplative and elusive, at other times provocative and alluring. These works represent an imaginary riposte to imperial narratives of empire and expansion, and the nineteenth-century myth of Africa as the ‘dark continent’.
The British-Liberian artist’s first major solo exhibition in the UK took place at Autograph's gallery in 2019-20, and featured more than 60 works on display across two galleries – many seen for the first time, including a site-specific architectural installation. The exhibition was infused with cultural histories of the global African diaspora and preoccupied with multifaceted notions of blackness: as colour, as material and as socio-political consciousness. To Viktor, black is the proverbial materia prima: the source, the dark matter that birthed everything.
Lina Iris Viktor lives and works itinerantly between Italy, New York and London. Raised in London to Liberian parents, she travelled extensively in her youth, and also lived in Johannesburg, South Africa, for several years.
Viktor’s multifaceted practice is informed by a background in theatre and film at Sarah Lawrence College, New York, and her continued studies in photography and design at The School of Visual Arts, along with an education in performance arts during high school. Often working with a restricted colour palette, her artworks are a blend of photography, performance and abstract painting, along with the ancient practice of gilding with 24-karat gold to create increasingly dark canvases embedded with ‘layers of light’.
Her work is held in the public collections of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art, Washington, DC; the Crocker Museum of Fine Art, Sacramento, California; Autograph, London; and many private collections worldwide.
Visit Viktor's website and follow the artist on Instagram.
Autograph is a place to see things differently. Since 1988, we have championed photography that explores issues of race, identity, representation, human rights and social justice, sharing how photographs reflect lived experiences and shape our understanding of ourselves and others.Donate Join our mailing list