VICTOR EKPUK in Washington Post – Arts Section

8 Oct

Sunday, October 6th, 2013

by Mark Jenkins

Three Wise Men, Courtesy of the Artist

Three Wise Men (triptych), 1996, acrylic on panel, 48″x20″ each panel, photo credit: John Woo

 

Victor Ekpuk

The writing that fills Victor Ekpuk’s drawings, paintings and mixed-media works has literal meaning, but most visitors to Morton Fine Art’s “Reminiscences & Current Musings” will be able to read only two words: the Nigerian-born D.C. artist’s name. He works it into the other text — which is in Nsibidi, an ancient West African system of ideographs — much the way he adds glimmers or blocks of color to his mostly black and white work.

Ekpuk doesn’t mind that the glyphs are obscure. The narratives in his works, he writes, can be “better perceived when they are felt rather than read literally.” Sometimes the text frames circles, usually rendered in bold blues or red-oranges, that suggest such elemental presences as the moon and the sun. This show features mostly recent works, but includes a few pieces that date as far back as 1996; some of them draw more directly on African folk art. Yet if such robust recent pieces as “Composition 11” seem more universal, they’re still framed by symbols that are rooted in a specific place and tradition.

Victor Ekpuk: Reminiscences &
Current Musings

On view through Oct. 8 at
Morton Fine Art, 1781 Florida Ave. NW; 202-628-2787; www.mortonfineart.com

 

 

Jenkins is a freelance writer.

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