Nigerian artist VICTOR EKPUK’s solo “Reminiscences & Current Muses” opens at Morton Fine Art in DC

13 Sep
REMINISCENCES & CURRENT MUSINGS
A solo exhibition of artwork by VICTOR EKPUK, featuring a rare collection of his artwork from 1996-2013
September 13th, 2013 – October 8th, 2013
OPENING RECEPTION
Friday, September 13th, 6-8pm
The artist will be in attendance.
ARTIST TALK
Saturday, September 28th, 4-6pm
Victor Ekpuk, Vigilante 2, 2012, ink and collage on paper, 48"x36"

Victor Ekpuk, Vigilante 2, 2012, ink and collage on paper, 48″x36″

EXHIBITION LOCATION
Morton Fine Art (MFA)
1781 Florida Ave NW (at 18th & U Sts)
Washington, DC 20009
HOURS
Tuesday – Saturday 11am – 6pm
Sunday 12pm-5pm
Select excerpts from the essay of Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi, PhD, 
Curator of African Art, The Hood Museum of Art on Victor Ekpuk’s Reminiscences & Current Musings: 
 “Victor Ekpuk’s creative process involves moments of quietude in which he digs studiously into his memory bank for visual clarity. The quiet search for acuity, very revealing of the artist’s interest in human experiences, frames Reminiscences and Recent Musings. In a way, this solo effort is a retrospective because it draws from several bodies of work produced by the artist between 1996 and 2013. These 20 works represent the artist’s meditations on his social experiences, drawing from Nigeria and the United States, his country of birth and residency respectively, and as with most contemporary artists, other worlds that he has experienced in the course of several international artists residencies in the last few years.
…Using invented scripts and imageries that evolved from the cryptic nsibidi writing system that is autochthonous to eastern Nigeria, Ekpuk translates the human experience both transparently and symbolically. It is no secret that the nsibidi ideographic forms now function as a conceptual backdrop for him. Earlier on, he drew extensively from the writing system, as is evident in the paintings: The Three Wise Men (triptych, acrylic on panel, 1996), Heaven’s Gate (acrylic on prayer board, 2000), and Idaresit (acrylic on canvas, 2004). At that point, Ekpuk was more interested in aesthetic memory, the idea that one can subject a common cultural wellspring to formal analysis in order to create new aesthetic possibilities. Except one that has some familiarity with the nsibidi form, the three works are open to multiple interpretations. They present what the art historian Chike Aniakor calls the “veiling of message [as being] the fortress of the artistic impulse.”[i] The works may have specific messages, but they are not directly accessible and require the artist’s intervention in order to unlock them.
Ekpuk has however become adept at inventing his own scripts, which may appear weighty in appearance, but are unburdened with fixed meaning. Unlike the nsibidi ideograms, Ekpuk’s inventions bear no deep secrets. Instead, they are outlets through which he articulates his perception of the world around him. In the artist’s oeuvre, his scripts recur in the form of dots, scrawls, contrived signs that are sometimes borrowed from pop culture, and few nsibidi signs which he employs more for their aesthetic value than for their significance. In 2006, Ekpuk had shifted his interest to drawing as his main channel of expression at the expense of painting in order to explore more rigorously the aesthetics of graphic signs as abstract forms. Altogether his invented scripts provide insights into a world of the artist’s making, a world that straddles the experienced and the imagined.
…In all, the works are several bodies of interconnected ideas that fit perfectly into an overarching artistic vision, from nearly two decades. They represent Ekpuk’s attempt to translate his experiences and the larger human experience, bearing the burden of contemplation, history, and contemporaneity.”
 
Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi, PhD
Curator of African Art,
The Hood Museum of Art,
Dartmouth College, New Hampshire

[i] Chika Aniakor, “AKA: The Conquests of An Artistic Vision,” AKA 89 [4thannual exhibition catalogue] (Enugu: AKA, 1989), 8.
Victor Ekpuk, Idaresit (Joyful Heart), 2004, acrylic on canvas, 48"x24"

Victor Ekpuk, Idaresit (Joyful Heart), 2004, acrylic on canvas, 48″x24″

About VICTOR EKPUK: 
 
VICTOR EKPUK’s art began as an exploration of
nsibidi “traditional” graphics and writing systems in Nigeria, and has since evolved to embrace a wider spectrum of meaning that is rooted in African and global contemporary art discourses.  His artwork is in the permanent collection of Smithsonian Institution National Museum of African Art, Newark Museum, The World Bank, and University of Maryland University College Art.
The central theme of Ekpuk’s work is the exploration of relationships, challenges, and responses to changes that characterize the contemporary human condition.  Of particular interest to his oevre is nsibidi, an indigenous African system of writing that employs graphic signs and codes to convey concepts. Inspired by these ancient writings, the forms in his works are reduced to a basic essence resulting in new symbols or codes in script-like drawings.
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