BORN into the first generation of free Malawians, the leading East African contemporary artist Samson Kambalu (below) this week became one of six international artists short listed for the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square.
The Fourth Plinth, you may recall, rotates, with works of popular imagination, and includes the element of a popular vote. The exhibition of the short-listed work opened in the National Gallery on Monday and includes work by Polish, Ghanaian, US, German, Malawian and Mexican born artists. Of these six, two will be selected for display in 2022 and 2024.
The Fourth Plinth shortlist includes work which focuses on the environment, bodily dysmorphia, transgender, British identity, colonial history and a moonshot. This is why it’s “contemporary” and as such is a departure, by definition, from what is historical, established, sanctioned, familiar and already canonised.
Knee-jerk reactions of contempt are to be expected for things not readily absorbed, not yet prepared for in public consciousness, not already integrated into everyday…