Muzae Sesay’s Freetown Veranda

”Fanta Radical”
Oil pastel and wax pencil on canvas
93 x 70 Inches

Review by Molly Cranston

“I am drinking palm wine, joking with friends, watching fishing boats dock for the day at Lumley Beach. I am setting up a pitch out back and dreaming of one day making the national team. I am haggling at open-air markets that line the street. I am explaining that buying a motorcycle is to find new work when really it is to liberate myself and find freedom. I am looking out onto the city thinking of how to leave my mark. I am flourishing, rolling around the grassy fields of my mind.” – Muzae Sesay

In Freetown Veranda, currently on view at Pt. 2 in Oakland, Muzae Sesay presents a new body of work that considers his Sierra Leonean heritage from the perspective of growing up in California, “The African-American, the American-African, both all of it and also somewhere in-between”. Sesay’s paintings and drawings piece together potential memories of Freetown, a place he is yet to experience, “remain[ing] ever so slightly on the horizon”.

In glowing shades of joy and reverie, Sesay under-cuts the “less-than narratives” of Sierra Leone spun by Western culture – generalized assumptions of civil unrest, corruption and illness that serve the projects of White Supremacy and American Exceptionalism. With bright intentionality, he focuses on leisure, freedom and peaceful daily life, staking claim to life he might have had growing up.

Dividing his canvases into dilating grids, each piece comes together to create a map of Freetown. He paves roads and plants trees, closes the curtains and skirts the dock, furnishing each scene in scolding and rhapsodic hues. Sesay’s compositions, previously pristine with their sharp corners and exultant blocks, remain distinctively geometric in Freetown Veranda, but exude a softness at the edge of each vital shape. Leaning more on oil and wax pastel, there is a new sense of richness and intimacy, as if he has drawn each shape with his tongue in his mouth before translating it to canvas. 

Using fragments of Sierra Leonean vlogs, street interviews, travel footage and club reviews as points of reference, Sesay blends the real and imagined to create Freetown. A storyteller, he weaves possibilities together and shows us the tangible power of imagination in a world where there is so often a frightful lack of it. Freetown Veranda is open at Pt. 2 until Sept. 4th.

”Day End Docks”
Vinyl paint, oil Pastel and wax pastel on canvas
48 x 60 Inches

”Our Stop On The Ladder With The Best View”
Oil Pastel and wax pencil on canvas
65.5 x 72 Inches

”Big Markit”
Oil pastel and vinyl paint on canvas stretched board
44 x64 Inches

”Pitch Out Back”
Vinyl paint, oil pastel, wax pencil, colored pencil, and graphite on canvas
48 x 60 Inches

”Port Loko Veranda”
Oil Pastel, graphite, wax pencil on canvas
47.5 x 73.5 Inches