Past exhibition

Don't forget the baggage handler

Joseph Palframan

Amsterdam , 13 Jan - 3 Feb '24
Don't forget the baggage handler
Past exhibition

Don't forget the baggage handler

Joseph Palframan

Amsterdam , 13 Jan - 3 Feb '24

During his solo exhibition ANTIDOTE, Ronald Ophuis invited Joseph Palframan to showcase his most recent work in Upstream's private viewing space. 

Joseph Palframan is a young painter, born in Namibia and now residing in Leuven (Belgium). Ophuis holds a deep admiration for his work, both conceptually and visually. Ronald Ophuis: "His painting is open, vulnerable, intimate, critical, narrative, rich in thought, and magnificently executed."


Baggage Handler

At the heart of this painting is the image of a baggage handler pulling a bag through sand. Many of us can resonate with the act of carrying a weighty bag, be it during commutes, vacations, or when moving house. It is physically demanding. Observing someone in a public space immersed in this activity can evoke a sense of alienation—head down, isolated, deeply concentrated on the task, and moving through the bustling environment at a pace noticeably slower than everyone else. The portrayal captures a universally relatable experience.

Museum Display

This painting is one of the most recent additions to a series born out of the artist’s interactions with artifacts at the Belgian Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren. These artifacts carry significant political weight, serving as lingering echoes of Belgium’s colonial history in Central Africa. Surrounded by controversy, the artist portrays them to gauge the emotional and intellectual space that exists between museum visitors and these displays, given their contentious provenance. The artist also holds the optimistic belief that these objects, laden with historical significance, have not traversed through time without purpose. Rather, they may eventually contribute to resolving future challenges for both the African diaspora and Western societies.


Baggage (local artist)

Lately, the artist has developed an interest in these bags, of which everyone has something to say – the ‘Ghana Must Go Bag,’ the ‘Refugee Bag,’ the ‘Zimbabwe Bag,’ and numerous others. These labels not only allude to migration and travel but also signify a distinct global class. As objects, they possess a truly international character and are widely recognizable.

The installation on display unveils some of the baggage associated with being a ‘local artist.’ The posters affixed to the walls of the bag showcase events that were funded, organized, promoted, curated, and facilitated by the same small cohort of artists. These posters reflect a commitment to serving the community and underscore the responsibility of maintaining art’s openness and accessibility.

The artwork depicts a recollection from the artist’s past. Positioned from left to right are Brains, Khennedy, Joseph (the artist), and Capo. Throughout the period of the Corona pandemic, the artist dedicated numerous hours to outdoor activities with friends—be it in the park, a shared garden, or within a circle of acquaintances, many of whom were musicians. Despite engaging in harmless activities such as creating music videos, having fun, and savoring the pleasant weather, they frequently found themselves subjected to unwarranted stops and searches.



Part of an outdoor series by the artist, this painting was created primarily outdoors, with the final touches applied inside the studio. Situated in Leuven, near his atelier, the artist painted this scene on the street, using a bollard for support, around 2 am.


A Dissection and Dissolving of the Figure: The Assassination of Patrice Lumumba

Contemplating representation and figurative painting, Palframan finds it impossible to overlook the colonial context inherent in being an artist in Belgium. The country’s colonial history remains conspicuously present through sculptures of King Leopold II and museums housing valuable African artifacts.

In a recent development, Belgium belatedly returned Patrice Lumumba’s gold-capped tooth to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 61 years after the fact. This tooth had been retained by an officer named Gerard Soete, who was involved in the gruesome act of dismembering and dissolving Lumumba’s body. The painting depicts this haunting scene, set somewhere in the central African bush.


Portrait of Patrice Lumumba?Patrice Lumumba, the inaugural prime

minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo, is depicted in this painting delivering a speech at the ceremony marking the proclamation of Congo’s independence from Belgium. The dark background foreshadows his near future.


1 + 2 |  Misconception Deception Protection, Joseph Palframan, 2023
3 | Portrait of Patrice Lumumba?Patrice Lumumba, the inaugural prime, Joseph Palframan, 2023 


Don’t forget the baggage handler |
Private Viewing space Upstream Gallery
13 January - 3 February 2024