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About the Exhibition

This exhibition is open to the public at MOWA | DTN, the museum’s satellite location inside Saint Kate—The Arts Hotel in downtown Milwaukee. Learn more

July 14, 2023–October 8, 2023

MOWA | DTN inside Saint Kate—The Arts Hotel

Through a complex layering of encoded meaning, personal narrative, and social commentary, Taj Matumbi depicts a dynamic world of alter egos. His symbol-laden drawings, paintings, and mixed-media compositions examine themes of isolation and otherness against a backdrop of family history, American history, and art history.

With active brushwork and restless iterations of boots, crowns, horses, skateboards, and self-portraits, Matumbi explores how changing contexts enable a repeated symbol to reveal different versions of itself. Toeing the line between formal abstraction and figuration, Matumbi builds tension in the figure-ground relationship by employing vibrant color blocks with sketchy overlapping borders—an apt metaphor to describe the artist’s exploration of his biracial identity and critique of toxic masculinity.

Comingling American twentieth and twenty-first-century iconography with art historical references to reclining nudes and seventeenth-century court paintings, Matumbi’s subjects fluidly inhabit both real and imagined worlds and question notions of American exceptionalism.

Taj Matumbi is an emerging artist, who grew up skateboarding with his older brothers in Northern California. A 2021 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he earned an MFA in painting and drawing and a BFA in ceramics and painting from Maharishi International University in Fairfield, Iowa. Matumbi has participated in several national group exhibitions, and his paintings are part of the permanent collections of the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts in Montgomery, Alabama, and the Louisiana State University Museum of Art in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Hot House is Matumbi’s first museum solo exhibition.

Image: Taj Matumbi, Sucker Punch Prince, 2022


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