Emerging out of the age-old cityscape of Milan, the latest exhibition curated by Archie Raphulu, titled “Lost and Found,” opened on June 8 at Galleria Poggiali. The show, which runs until July 7, represents a selection of poignant and distinct voices in the contemporary art landscape: Kim Dacres, Melissa Joseph, John Rivas, Kayode Ojo and Nate Lewis.
The vibrant interplay of the artists’ diverse practices reveals a dynamic symbiosis rooted in the exploration of materiality and social and cultural narratives. The curatorial premise — what Raphulu describes as ‘lost and found’ — encapsulates the myriad personal and creative journeys each artist has undergone, creating a striking dialogue that transcends their individual experiences.
Melissa Joseph and Nate Lewis share a history tied to Washington D.C., having lived and worked in the D.C. area before relocating to New York City.
Joseph spent six years teaching in District of Columbia Public Schools and at Georgetown Prep before moving her creative practice north.
Lewis, an ICU nurse turned artist, exhibited through Jessica Stafford Davis’ Agora Culture at Art on the Vine prior to his move.
Raphulu’s choice of artists is a reflection of both his personal relationships and an appreciation of their work.
John Rivas, known for his innovative use of diverse materials, was included for his creative resilience — his backstory involves piecing together scraps to make canvases during his time in Colombia due to limited financial means.
Kim Dacres, whose art often involves repurposing tires and rubber from cars and motorcycles, was selected for her evocative portrayals of people of color.
Kayode Ojo’s contribution, an interrogation of fashion and consumerism through counterfeit objects, reflects Italy’s status as a fashion capital.
Melissa Joseph and Nate Lewis each bring a distinctive approach to materiality. Joseph incorporates wool, silk, and found objects from an antique dealer into her work. In contrast, Lewis brings his unique perspective as a former medical professional into his art practice.
Raphulu’s vision for “Lost and Found” goes beyond the ordinary boundaries of curation. The experience of being an African American curator in a place like Milan, where he brought together artists from different cultures and backgrounds, resonates throughout the exhibition.
“It’s just very incredible,” he said, noting the enthusiastic reception and deep community engagement that the show received.
People were drawn into the gallery from the streets, marking a significant shift in the Milan art scene, typically not known for such exhibitions.
The partnership with Galleria Poggiali came together seamlessly. According to Raphulu, after an initial meeting, the concept for the show was pitched, dates were set, and the hard work began. This collaboration is a testament to the growing intercontinental connection in the art world and the exciting possibilities it brings.
In “Lost and Found,” Raphulu not only presents an ensemble of remarkable artists, but also constructs an intimate narrative of personal journeys and transformative experiences, making the exhibition an essential destination for art enthusiasts visiting Milan this summer.