Jordy Kerwick

10.04.2024 — 21.10.2023
JORDY KERWICK, BE SURE TO NEVER GET TO WHERE YOU ARE GOING #2, 2024 acrylic, oil and spray on canvas, 55 × 63 in (140 × 160 cm)
JORDY KERWICK, DESIRE LINES TO CALM YOUR MIND, 2024 acrylic, oil and spray on canvas, 71 × 79 in (180 × 200 cm)
JORDY KERWICK, THE OFFERING, 2024 acrylic, oil and spray on canvas, 71 × 79 in (180 × 200 cm)
JORDY KERWICK, ADLER / MILAN, 2024 acrylic, oil and spray on canvas, 67 × 47 in (170 × 120 cm)
JORDY KERWICK, YEAR OF THE DRAGON, 2024 acrylic, oil and spray on canvas, 39 × 32 in (100 × 80 cm))
JORDY KERWICK, THE OFFERING (BEFORE THE END), 2024 acrylic, oil and spray on canvas 39 × 32 in (100 × 80 cm)
Asafo flags by the Fante people, from the private collection of Peter Adler
Asafo flags by the Fante people, from the private collection of Peter Adler

Exhibition Text

Carl Kostyál is delighted to present ‘Be sure never to get where you are going’, an exhibition of new paintings by Australian-born, France-based artist Jordy Kerwick, showing together with a group of early Asafo flags by the Fante people of Ghana, from the private collection of the renowned tribal art dealer Peter Adler, at the Kostyál home in Milan.

Jordy Kerwick’s visual language is characterised by his unique juxtaposition of domestic objects with predatory animals. His depiction of king cobras, tigers and feather-maned unicorns create a narrative of unabashedly playful contemporary folklore. But the apparent simplicity of his compositions, which draw on mythology, tribalism, the natural world, fairy tales and dreams, belies their rich architecture. A born colourist, his palette is rich and bright.

Like the Asafo military companies’ flags, where simple imagery would either depict a historical event, identify the company with an animal, an image of power or illustrate a confrontational proverb to threaten other rival companies, or like the Cut-Outs of Matisse, Kerwick’s paintings contain complex spatial architectonics. With little shading, rendering, or cross-hatching, he layers space without illusionism; the eye is always savouring the surface and the different internal juxtapositions. Shades of colour might be reversed to make one figure come forward and the other go back, creating new visual ordinances.

The subject of a recent solo exhibition at the Museum Thyssen Bornemisza in Madrid, this is Jordy’s first exhibition with the gallery. He will have a second solo show with Carl Kostyál at the gallery’s Stockholm space, Hospitalet, in 2025.


About the Fante tribe and the Asafo flags

The Fante people who live along the Central Region of Ghana’s coast traded extensively with Europeans and were avid buyers of imported cloth.

Lacking a standing army during the 17th century the Fante organized military groups called ‘Asafo’, the name is derived from ‘sa’ meaning war, and ‘fo’ meaning people. During this colonization period, the ‘Asafo’ people began adopting European and British military practices such as naming and numbering their states and companies. The earliest flags may have been painted or drawn on raffia cloth but, as is the case today most flags were made of appliquéd trade cloth. The marking of special occasions or the installation of a new ‘Asafo’ chief (Supi) is the main motivation for the creation of a new flag. These flags are displayed at different social events including annual festivals, ceremonies, and funerals. Patchwork appliqué cut edges producing fringing, colour, and symbolic scenes where the image is mirrored on both sides are typical aspects of an Asafo Flag. Many carried the Union Jack until Ghana claimed independence in 1957.

Jordy Kerwick (b. 1982, Melbourne, Australia) lives and works in Gaillac, France. He has exhibited extensively internationally, across USA, Europe, Asia, Australia and the Middle East. His paintings and sculptures are held in numerous public and private collections, with his most recent institutional show at the Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum, Madrid, Spain.

Peter Adler, the London-based musician turned jewellery designer and tribal art dealer, has long been an avid collector of Asafo flags, created by the Fante tribe in Ghana. Looking at their exquisite compositions and use of textiles and embroidery to convey both explicit narratives and hidden meanings, the sympathy in this long-held artistic tradition with the  work of Jordy Kerwick is palpable.

To hear Jordy and Peter in conversation with art critic Maeve Doyle, visit