Updated: May 30
Hello Queen, 2022
ArtMatch Value Score*: Promising
Izere Antoine (b. 1996) is a painter whose work is inspired by sculpture, impressionism, African landscapes and the beauty and strength of women.
Antoine’s Uncle showed him how to create depth and perspective on a flat surface. Ever since, he has been fascinated with form and texture. Antoine has combined his training in sculpture with his love for impressionism to create a style using the impasto painting technique that is powerful and recognizable. His love and respect for women features prominently in his work, as does his love of nature. Antoine recently had his first solo exhibition in the United States and is currently showing in a group exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila in the Philippines.
"I seek to capture the essence of the various subjects, transporting the viewer to a different place and time. I want to take the viewer on a journey, drawing them inward to experience the emotions in the stories that are told."
Izere Antoine was born in Rushoga, Democratic Republic of Congo, though both of his parents are from Rwanda. His uncle taught him perspective drawing along with pottery techniques, which sparked a burning passion for art. With the support of his parents, particularly his mother, Antoine studied at the Nyundo School of Art in Rwanda where he graduated with a degree in sculpture and ceramics. Antoine began his career with a plan to create bronze sculptures, but obtaining the necessary materials was difficult. So he pivoted his practice to painting while retaining sculptural elements through thick textured work. He used a technique called impasto painting, which involves applying paint using a palette knife.
In terms of subject matter, Antoine decided to focus on themes of hope and happiness along with women empowerment. He does so by capturing contemporary portraiture and placing them in an African context, rooted in culture and history. Antoine explained to us that before the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, which marked the end of the civil war between the government and the rebels, women were underestimated. Antoine describes the inclusion and representation of powerful Black female figures in his work as a personal touch, inspired by his own mother. Set in colourful landscapes or abstract backgrounds, his characters almost always stand alone, owning their space and giving an even greater impression of empowerment. The artist is willing to show their strength and importance in the community. He is honouring the impact they have today, creating a voice for them. In this sense, Antoine is painting history, past and present together, weaving a connection and forming a safe space for dialogue between these generations, but also a space of relatability where the audience can feel this connection. His practice, in a way, serves to preserve memories. In 2017, Antoine opened a studio space called Izihirwe Arts where he and a number of other artists work today.
Floating in the Sky, 2022
Oil on canvas
48 x 38 in
Antoine’s works are of impressionist and expressionist inspiration. It is visible in the rendering of landscape and characters, almost blending together, with visible brushstrokes and palette knife lashes. Antoine’s work and techniques focuses on light, face, and shading focus. His style could sometimes be characterized as figurative abstract as he sets his characters before an abstract background and blends the two together. In his works, Antoine depicts scenes of mundane social life and focuses on transferring emotion to his audience through his characters. First studied through his first series 'Share Your Smile', the artist maintains his wish to create hope and happiness through his paintings.
Antoine’s practice aspires to depict Black bodies in serene atmospheres, and through that finds power in sharing joy. His impasto technique brings texture and layers to his work: a physical depth as well as conceptual that could be seen as an emotional inward journey, transported through time, and brought back to the present with a contemporary representation and depiction of his characters and surroundings. His colour palette is balanced with the use of earth tones, in tune with nature and the human body, and subtle colours that translate a warm atmosphere. Almost no black is used in the process which creates different tones and unusual lighting.
Acrylic on Canvas
48 x 60 in
Antoine’s process starts with a concept study: he uses different tools to build an idea and a sketch for his work. Coordinating photoshoots with people from Rwanda, Antoine aims to paint people from his community. He then composes a skeleton by creating collages and illustrations. When starting on the process of painting itself, Antoine likes to paint at night, a peaceful moment where the mind is left serene with space for creativity. He first sketches with charcoal, then applies paint, using acrylics and oil, with a palette knife to create these incredible thick textures, known as impasto. Using this technique to make three-dimensional works gives Antoine’s practice a sculptural dynamism, much informed by his studies, and a way to play with light and shadow with the highlight of forms and volumes. He likes to mix impasto and brushstrokes techniques to explore different styles and at the same time craft his own.
In 2022, Antoine had his debut solo exhibition in the United States called Stride with Mitochondria Gallery in Houston. His work is currently on display in a group exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila called Sounds of Blackness, curated by Larry Ossei Mensah. Antoine is currently working on his second solo exhibition with Mitochondria Gallery.
Watch Izere describe his practice:
ArtMatch interview with Izere Antoine (April 3, 2023)
*The ArtMatch Value Score is our assessment of the likelihood of the artist's work to hold or appreciate in value. Numerical scores are calculated based on a combination of variables, including but not limited to type of gallery representation, number of solo shows, quality of collector base, number of pieces sold at auction. Scores are summarized to one of three ranking categories: emerging, promising, and strong. Note this does not constitute official investment advice and is given purely as an input to help assess artists from a value perspective.