Archive | April, 2016

VICTOR EKPUK “Home Coming” exhibition in Nigeria featured in The Nation

28 Apr

 

The Nation logo Nigeria
Ekpuk

Ekpuk: Home coming for a visual artist

by Edozie Udeze , April 24, 2016 at 12:00 am in Arts & Life

Victor Ekpuk,  a former Daily Times cartoonist,  left the shores of Nigeria about fifteen years ago.  He recently returned home on a residency to explore the artistic terrain.  He spoke to Edozie Udeze on his on-going exhibition, his love for residencies for artists, his artistic exploits in the United States of America and lots more.

Last year, Victor Ekpuk, a Nigerian artist based in New York, the United States of America, had a few months residency programme in Nigeria.  The idea was for him to be closer home to his country of origin and to acquire more new concepts to help his works.  This done, Ekpuk went to town, travelling familiar turfs and mingling with people.  In the end, he came out with what he termed Coming Home.

The exhibition which is on-going in Lagos at the moment was sponsored by Arthouse – the Space, noted for its commitment to the promotion of contemporary art in Nigeria.  At the opening of the exhibition, Ekpuk along with the whole clan of artists, art enthusiasts, patrons and stakeholders gathered to savour the depth and profundity of the ideas espoused by him.

In an interview, Ekpuk, a former cartoonists with the Daily Times of Nigeria (Plc), said, “well, when I came to Nigeria, I decided to open up my mind and let my experience of Nigeria inform what I did; taking photographs of me going round places, mingling, buying materials, chatting with people.  Yes, I wanted that interaction to inform the theme of the work that I do here in Nigeria.  Then I thought that my first solo exhibition in Nigeria after ten years should not be the work that I created in America and brought here.  I wanted to come here and be inspired by the environment, by the retinue of ideas and the people here in Nigeria.”

And that was exactly what he did; he went to rural and remote places to acquire materials for his work.  In the process, diverse ideas blossomed. “Part of it is the three-dimensional form that you see here today,” Ekpuk enthused.  “Yes, I’ve always wanted to do sculpture for a while now.  So I decided to use this residency to pursue that and do much more expanded volume of works.  Often when you come to residency it gives you the right opportunity to do what you may not normally do in your studios.  This was why I did that here,” he mused.

A stickler for colours and surrealism, Ekpuk did not shy away from the reasons why his focus on multi-colours has been his best forte over time.  “Bright colours are cheerful.  When I need to use them, I use them. Yet the ambience of the Nigerian set up also helped me to give these works the colours you see here today.  People dress very colourfully, the people are alive and vibrant and energetic.  All these gave rise to the bright colours represented in my paintings.

A bit away from landscapes, Ekpuk prefers to concentrate on abstracts as his best medium.  He said, “I do many abstracts works.  I don’t necessarily do landscapes.  I do the abstract so much that people may not recognize the works eventually.  That is one of the abstracts I do,” he said pointing to one of his works titled Head 6.  “Now, when you play with form, it helps you to be who you are.  That is what I am interested in.  I am interested in representing the form the way I love it.”

Having changed his perceptions from what it urged to be when he was in Daily Times, he explained however, that in life both people and things keep changing.”  Yes, it happens; people change.  This is why I now indulge in Nsibidi and Ulli art forms.  Yes, I like to draw to express things fully to show form and colour.  And the form offers me the opportunity to draw that way.  In fact, I like to reduce ideas just to form and this is why you see what you see here today.”

Trained at the University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Ile-Ife, he confessed that OAU was the bedrock of his artistic life.  “OAU days was the bedrock for me to be what I am today.  It helps me to look into African ideas to have the kind of works I have here now.  It has helped me as a contemporary artist.  Even then the Daily Times days were the best days for me as an employed artist.  Today I am on my own, doing mostly studio works.  I enjoyed going to work everyday in Daily Times even when the salary was not much.  I loved what I did, using my works to deviate to politics.  I used my works to make fun of politicians.  And it was good to do that in those days of the military.”

Elucidating more, he said,” I brought my studio works into the cartoons I did.  I think Daily Times management then gave me freedom to do my work.  So it was not just to be a cartoonist as you know it, but to be a full artist.  My work in Daily Times started being abstract at a point too,” he reminisced.

In Pride of Origin, one of the series he did for the exhibition, he explained the motives behind it thus: “there, I am exploring the aesthetics of womanhood and their beauty.  Yes, Nigerian art is growing and you have to show the extent of this growth.  Fifteen years ago, there was no space like this, where you could exhibit your works.  Fifteen years ago, you had no auctions where Nigerian works could be sold for millions of Naira in an auction.  Fifteen years ago, you had practically no Nigerian art collectors.  All you had were foreigners or expatriates who came once in a while to patronize our works.

“Every weekend now you have exhibitions everywhere and all you do is choose the one you want to attend.  It wasn’t like this before.  All you had then were the French Cultural Centre and the Goethe Institute where exhibitions held once in a while.  Now, people buy works, Nigerians, I mean, buying works of Nigerian artists.  There are venues now.  Nigerian cultures are being espoused and Nigerians now consume their cultures.  It is no longer expatriates doing it for us,” he said.

He commended the Arthouse – The Space, for initiating the residency programme for artists.  “Yes,” he said, gesturing with his hands, “artists need residencies.  I was given a nice space to work.  I wasn’t here for family but to work.  This is what residencies mean.  It was a fantastic experience.  So when I came back, memories began to flow back to me.  When I went out to buy materials, I found myself in familiar terrains where I haggled, bantered and exchanged ideas with people.  Residencies should be able to do that to you so that you come out with the best works ever.”

Now, if the Arthouse Foundation can do this for the visual art, what of the other aspects of the art?  There have to be avenues like what obtains here now to prosper art generally in Nigeria.

Contact Morton Fine Art for available artwork by VICTOR EKPUK.

Morton Fine Art, 1781 Florida Ave NW, Washington, DC 20009

+001 202 628 2787, mortonfineart@gmail.com, http://www.mortonfineart.com

Tips for the Emerging Art Collector

26 Apr

When starting an art collection, purchasing art can be a very daunting task. Many find the idea of it intimidating and overwhelming. However, the truth is that it doesn’t have to be that difficult. There are all kinds of ways in which art collecting is open to everyone…one just needs to take that first step. Art isn’t always a $10 million painting and you don’t always have to find it in a gallery in New York City.  This post is going to share some tips on how to begin your journey down the fun path of collecting art.

Julia Fernandez Pol, Reef Series 8, 23.5"x18.5", bas-relief hand painted monoprint

Julia Fernandez Pol, Reef Series 8, 23.5″x 18.5″, bas-relief hand painted monoprint

Tip #1: Buy art you like/love/couldn’t live without.

This is the first thing any collector will tell you. There is nothing like a regretted purchase, especially when it comes to art. That is why it is strongly suggested that you buy works that really speak to you. When buying a work of art, you want to make sure that it is something that you will still want to look at after it’s been on your wall for some amount of time. Works that make you stop and notice something new in them every time you look are the best kinds of works. If you see a piece in a gallery and you can’t stop thinking about it or continuously go to see it, that’s probably the art collector inside telling you something. At Morton Fine Art, we have the option of taking art works out on approval so that you can hang them in your home/office for a short period of time to get a feeling of what it would be like living with the piece.

Self goggles 4 - 8x10 - oil on mylar web

Charles Williams, Self Portrait with Goggles 4, 10″x8″, oil on mylar

Tip #2: Artwork doesn’t have to match your sofa. Or other pieces in your in collection.

This is a good follow up to the “Buy art you love” tip. It can be a touchy subject as on a few occasions, some people have come into the gallery looking for something to match a piece of furniture or a wall in their space. While it is really awesome when works of art match, it can stifle the creative freedom that makes art collecting fun. Buying your first piece of art doesn’t have to dictate the direction your collection will go. You can mix landscapes with figurative works, abstracts with realism. For example, works on paper are a great way to keep  In the end, it’s really about how they make you feel. Your art collection is a story about you and the experiences you’ve had in your life time.

Trance Dance, 2002, 26"x19", oil and pastel on handmade paper

Trance Dance, 2002, 26″x 19″, oil and pastel on handmade paper

Tip #3: More often than not, art IS in your budget.

A lot of potential collectors get scared off from buying art because they automatically assume the works are going to be out of their price range. Stories from auction houses about works that sell for millions don’t help alleviate this misconception. There are different ways galleries can help you figure out how to buy your first piece. When you are going to a gallery to buy art for the first time, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Also, keep in mind that certain factors will determine the price of a piece. Medium for example, can dictate the price of an artwork. From my own personal experience, I’ve built my collection (which include works by Vonn Sumner, Katherine Hattam, Nathaniel Donnett and Kesha Bruce) around buying works on paper because I find that they fit within my budget more so than works on canvas. That shouldn’t, however, prevent you from figuring out which mediums you like best.

Other ways can be through extended payments. For example, art works can be put on payment plans. Galleries will break up the cost of a piece into more easily payable payments over a 2-3 month period. This is helpful because it will help you budget and feel more secure in your art purchase. However, don’t always assume a gallery will offer you a plan. If you are really interested in a piece, ask the gallerist about their financial options.

If you are interested in starting your art collection or are looking to add something new to your already started collection, please contact the gallery. New collectors, ask about our New Collector Initiative!

New artworks by JULIA MAE BANCROFT

25 Apr
We are proud to announce the arrival of three new artworks by DC based artist JULIA MAE BANCROFT.  A graduate of the Corcoran College of Art & Design, Bancroft intricately and thoughtfully hand-stitches her mixed media artworks on paper. Each piece incorporates natural fibers including hemp, Merino wool and bamboo to complement her figurative monoprint drawings which are also laced with oil paint, watercolor paint and conte crayon. A typical artwork in her series Mending Moments takes 50-60 hours to complete.

About Mending Moments:

Mending Moments is a title that describes both the literal process and conceptual ideas behind the artwork I make. I carefully “mend” the surface of my images by stitching various fibers directly into the paper by hand, rearranging its parts and binding the pieces back together to form a new ethereal moment for reflection.”

-Julia Mae Bancroft, 2016

Pompilidae, 2016, 7″x9″, watercolor, oil pastel and various natural fibers hand-stitched on photograph


Locks Fly, 2016, 9.5″x14″, watercolor, oil pastel and various natural fibers hand-stitched on photograph


Awaiting, 2016, 15″x67″, watercolor, oil pastel, and conte on hand-stitched paper


Awaiting (DETAIL)

Please contact the gallery for acquisition.

Morton Fine Art, 1781 Florida Ave NW, Washington, DC 20009

(202) 628-2787

mortonfineart@gmail.com

http://www.mortonfineart.com

MARIO ROBINSON’s Book “Lessons in Realistic Watercolor”

21 Apr

We’ve got our copy! Have you got yours? Mario Andres Robinson’s new book “Lessons in Realistic Watercolor” now available on Amazon.com.

Contact Morton Fine Art for available paintings by this master painter!

mario book cover and art

 

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Morton Fine Art, 1781 Florida Ave NW, Washington, DC 20009

(202) 628-2787, mortonfineart@gmail.com

http://www.mortonfineart.com

 

 

NATE LEWIS “Biological Tapestries” reviewed in Washington City Paper

19 Apr

 

washington city paper

“Biological Tapestries” Through April 27 at Morton Fine Art Artist Nate Lewis’ first solo exhibition cuts deep.

“Cloaked in Fratres Forever,” by Nate Lewis (2016)

Nate Lewis didn’t train to be an artist. Instead, he went into nursing, just like his father.

It wasn’t until his final year of school that Lewis became interested in art—first music, then drawing—as a way to disengage from the stress of the medical profession. For the better part of the last decade, Lewis has been honing his artistic practice while working in high-stakes, emotionally draining intensive care units. He currently works as a registered nurse in the recovery area of the critical care ward at George Washington University Hospital.

His first solo show, “Biological Tapestries,” now on view at Morton Fine Art, features 16 papercut works that blend Lewis’ interest in human healing with artistic expression. “Biological Tapestries” is an outgrowth of the trauma and redemption he’s experienced in his work environment. The works are compositionally minimal, even austere—mostly portraits that are simple and straight on, printed on porous paper in stark black and white. Lewis then sculpts the paper by snipping, slicing, and perforating the silhouette of the bodies to create three-dimensional figures that emerge from the canvas.

Lewis’ medical training and saint-like patience from years of caretaking are apparent in his practice. The paper-cutting process is laborious and detailed; it often takes him up to 38 hours to complete larger works (the biggest piece in the show is only 40 inches by 26 inches). The surgical precision that Lewis employs is, for all intents and purposes, as necessary to the integrity of these bodies as it would be in a real operation—one false knife swipe and an appendage might be lost. The stakes, naturally, are lower when it comes to paper.

Not every paper sculpture depicts a body in its entirety, to various effect. Some of the works come across as a memorial in nature, such as “Save Me This Time,” which features a torso with arms folded across its chest, as if laid to rest, unable to be physically saved. Others are slightly macabre, even if not intended to be so, by focusing on one specific body part—like a singular arm, no body in sight.

None of the all-male figures in the portraits are named, although Lewis’ artist’s statement suggests that they represent the patients and family members he interacts with in the hospital. The delicately layered slashes and densely patterned pinpricks that make up the artist’s paper patients impart a material fragility, as if one more incision could do them in, leaving nothing but shredded paper behind.

Like the injured and ill he cares for day in and day out, Lewis renders himself similarly vulnerable within the series. For instance, “Glio” features a forward-facing portrait of the artist, his face increasingly obscured by leaf-like snips that continue multiplying beyond his head, across the blank space of the page. The title seems to recall a clinical case Lewis perhaps encountered on the job—a quick search for “glio” reveals that a glioblastoma is a fast-growing brain tumor.

By reimagining and embodying the maladies of his patients, “Biological Tapestries” seems like an act of extreme empathy on Lewis’ part. Yet his self-portraits are also redolent of martyrdom. Lewis must methodically puncture, cut, and slice his own body until his features are nearly indiscernible. His process is almost a form of conceptual self-immolation in service of those he cannot help.

But for all of its painstaking craftsmanship and empathic ideals, “Biological Tapestries” lacks the tenderness of real vulnerability and pain. Despite being a series wrought from reflection on moments of intense mortal reckoning and human compassion, there is a certain amount of clinical detachment. The figures—both whole and partial—remain upright and static, their bodies on display like a teaching cadaver. They are beautiful in their design, but ultimately interchangeable.

1781 Florida Ave. NW. Free. (202) 628-2787. mortonfineart.com.

Click HERE to view available artwork by NATE LEWIS.

NATE LEWIS featured in DCist

14 Apr

dcist

From Operating Table to Canvas, Nate Lewis Finds Intricate Art

Thirty-year-old Nate Lewis never so much as doodled in the margins of a notebook for the first 20 years of his life. He grew up wanting to be a nurse like his father, so he got a nursing degree from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2009. Art really wasn’t on his radar.

Towards the end of college, his classes started to wear him out, so he distracted himself during lectures by sketching. His older sister Leah, 32, peeked over his shoulder one day and complimented the work. The following Christmas, she got him some art supplies and a book: Betty Edwards’ Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.

From those humble beginnings, Lewis has come a long way. He’s opening his first solo exhibition this Friday at Morton Fine Art, a collection of 14 intricately crafted paper sculptures that present the human anatomy in a variety of forms.

Lewis hails from the small town of Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania—population: 9000—where his main pastimes included listening to music and playing baseball and basketball. “I was essentially a jock growing up,” he says.

Nursing appealed to him first as a venue in which he could study science and the human body. Only gradually did he realize that being a nurse meant taking intimate care of people at their most fragile and vulnerable. That scared him at first, but when he embraced the role, he found it fulfilling.

“When you walk into the room at 7 a.m. to take care of these patients, the families just open up with everything to you. You become part of this critical time in their family history,” Lewis says. “You have an intimate relationship and trust with these family members.”

After going through school, he took up work at several critical care facilities, including a surgical intensive care unit and a stroke unit. At that time, his main artistic interests were in music. He took a violin class because his mother was using one at the same time.

“I think that was my art more than anything, just listening to it. I wanted to play,” Lewis says. “I loved the strings, I just loved the violin and I just loved the sound of it.”

Playing put Lewis in the right headspace to start exploring his drawing skills. At first his sister told him to “draw some life”—buildings and other city surroundings. But Lewis quickly found that subject boring.

“Just drawing something to get better at it, I didn’t enjoy it,” Lewis says. “I wanted art to be fun.”

So he followed his muse, drawing increasingly elaborate images pairing an instrument with an organ—a trumpet with a set of lungs coming out, a phonograph made of red blood cells, a pair of brains that doubled as headphones. He brought his sketch pad and pencil to coffee shops near his home, then in Falls Church. It gradually dawned on him that his unconscious mind was simply translating the experiences he was having at work in the hospital, giving shape to the abstract concepts behind the medical procedures he witnessed.

The drawings grew into a T-shirt line, followed by some experimentation with a black pen. Then he realized he could use the blade as a pen to make smaller and more layered designs. By January 2014, he had started making full pieces like the ones he’s now displaying, cranking out as many as twelve per month. The largest pieces—26 inches by 40 inches—can take between 26 to 38 hours to create, Lewis said.

Since then, Lewis has been focused on displaying his creations and, as of October 2014, selling them. All the while, he’s maintained a steady paycheck at various hospitals, including George Washington Hospital, where he currently works in the recovery area of the critical care unit. That job is less emotionally taxing than some of his previous ones, he admits.

Among numerous accolades, Lewis won the regional edition of the Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series contest last year and earned grants from the D.C. Commission of the Arts & Humanities for the last two years running. He’s done shows in Brooklyn and San Francisco, and he placed in the top ten of a contest at the Hamiltonian Gallery on U Street. Through a friend, he sent his work to the Morton Fine Art Gallery in Adams Morgan, which quickly signed him to a contract and supported him at the Art Basel convention in Miami.

Amy Morton, the founder of the gallery, took to Lewis’ style soon after seeing it, according to gallery assistant Julia Bancroft. The mixture of texture and simplicity, as well as Lewis’ local placement, make him a good fit for the gallery’s roster, Bancroft says.

“He’s just hitting it off in the city and gaining some recognition,” Bancroft says. “We’re just really happy to support him.”

Looking ahead, Lewis hopes to slowly make a foray into photography. Eventually, he could see his artistic career dominating his professional life full-time. But he’s in no rush to abandon his medical career.

“It’s scary to think about going from a regular consistent paycheck to relying on selling things that people don’t need. But you’ve got to take a leap when it’s time,” Lewis said. “I’m in no hurry.”

Art serves a meditative role for Lewis, but he’s more concerned with communicating indescribable experiences to the widest possible audience.

“Art has done a lot for me and it’s showed me a lot of things about myself and about others,” Lewis said. “And it’s something that I just need to continue to cultivate.”

Lewis’ exhibition will open with a reception at 6 p.m. tomorrow and run until April 27 at Morton Fine Art (1781 Florida Ave NW). The gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 12 to 5 p.m.

Click HERE to view available artworks by NATE LEWIS.

NATE LEWIS’ “Biological Tapestries – 1st Movement” highlighted in DCist

6 Apr
Opening this Friday, 8 April from 6pm-8pm at Morton Fine Art.  Don’t miss the opportunity to view Nate’s latest sculpted paper photo prints and congratulate him on his first solo exhibition already destined for great success!
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Arts Agenda: Cut Paper Edition

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Nate Lewis will have his first solo show at Morton Fine Arts, starting on April 8 (Courtesy of Nate Lewis).

April Arts Highlights

Biological Tapestries by Nate Lewis @ Morton Fine Art. Opens April 8. (Free)

Nate Lewis’ intricate paper sculptures are visually stunning in digital format, but need to be seen up close and personal to truly appreciate the detail. And, because much of this work draws from his experience working as a critical care nurse in an intensive care unit, they also explore the intensity of these life-altering moments, asking the viewer share the fragility and intimacy of the patient’s medical experiences. Stay tuned for a profile of the artist next week.

Morton Fine Art is located at 1781 Florida Ave NW.