There’s a close relationship between drawing and writing, and it follows that drawing on a small scale has echoes of the diary entry, something designed for an audience of one. There’s something of the diary about Nicola Frimpong’s work, not just in its frank exploration of the darker reaches of the human psyche, but in its combination of informality and intensity. In Frimpong’s Untitled (White Slaves), a kind of historical revisionist fantasy is played out in a theatre (a hint at the heightened nature of Frimpong’s narrative).
A cage sits onstage, occupied by beefy and well-hung naked white men, as an audience of exclusively black heads look on, having apparently thrown rotten vegetables at them; a small group of auctioneers approach and prepare to make a sale. There’s a comic absurdity to the vision: her white slaves are parodies of teenage lust, as fresh-faced and toned as members of a boy band.
Frimpong’s drawing has some of Henry Darger’s combination of delicate colouring belying a disturbing, sexually suggestive content, minus Darger’s outsider disregard for the viewer’s sensibility. Frimpong seems determined to rattle the cage, peppering her drawings with images of dismembered bodies, sexual depravity and grotesque tortures. In some senses, Frimpong’s approach to art has the self-reflexive qualities of an actor playing a part; in .The Accidental Birth of Nicola – I Should of been Born a Boy, the displacement of the title is enacted in fantasies of male beauty and sexual prowess. As in a diary, so in the mind: nothing is held back.