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Skepta is unveiling and auctioning his first painting this week

The rapper has turned his hand to art

Eddy Frankel
Written by
Eddy Frankel
Art & Culture Editor
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Not content with being one of the UK’s most successful and respected rappers/producers, Skepta, it turns out, is also a painter. And to prove it, he’s having his debut exhibition, showing just one painting at Sotheby’s London auction house.

The painting, called ‘Mama Goes to Market’, is a hyper-saturated Nigerian street scene, all bright yellows and eye-popping purples, with graffiti-covered walls and women browsing fruit and veg. It’s a personal, sentimental painting for Skepta: ‘My mum used to carry me just as the woman in my painting carries her child,’ he says. ‘I always planned to include these four figures: a young boy, two women engrossed in conversation, and another lady rationing rice into a bowl besides baskets brimming with fruit and veg.’

Skepta, 'Mama Goes To Market'
Skepta, 'Mama Goes To Market'

The inspiration came not only from his childhood, but from frustration at being stuck in lockdown and wondering if his own daughter would ever get to go to a Nigerian market as he had. ‘This painting came from a real frustration. It was the only way I could really express myself at that time.’

Skepta has co-curated other works on display at Sotheby’s, including paintings by big names like Lynette Yiadom-Boakye and Frank Bowling as well as art by people like Goldie and Slawn.

Doubtful about the idea of a rapper turned artist? Keep your Skepta-cism in check. 

The display is open to the public Sep 7-13 2022 at Sotheby’s. Free.

Want more art? Here are the top ten exhibitions in London.

Want more *free* art? Just have a look here.

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