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Video: VICTOR EKPUK Installation of Mural at North Carolina Museum of Art!

20 Jun

Washington DC based Nigerian artist VICTOR EKPUK recently completed a mural,  Divinity, for the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, NC. It was part of their newly opened African art galleries. You can see a time-lapse of him creating the mural above.

To see more available works by VICTOR EKPUK, please visit his page on our website HERE or contact the gallery.

Below, you can find an article written about his installation in the Indy Week:

Victor Ekpuk’s Divine Mural at the North Carolina Museum of Art Heralds New Life for Its African Galleries

Victor Ekpuk's new mural at NCMA was commissioned to augment the museum's expanded African art gallery.

Photo by Ben McKeown

Victor Ekpuk’s new mural at NCMA was commissioned to augment the museum’s expanded African art gallery.

Ekpuk’s work covers a thirty-by-eighteen-foot wall in one of NCMA’s new African art galleries, which have been expanded in the museum’s East Building to include works from across the continent spanning sixteen centuries. Opening to the public by the end of June, the galleries will almost double the number of African works on display, including never-before-seen textiles and works on paper in light-controlled areas.

El Anatsui‘s “Lines that Link Humanity,” a quilt-like sculpture of aluminum and copper wire, hangs on a wall adjacent to Ekpuk’s work. Valises opposite the mural contain objects including a Yoruba divination board and ornately carved totems. Approaching this commission with no preconceived composition, Ekpuk sat in the space for a day considering the neighboring works before he pulled out his iPad to begin sketching.

“It’s more about the aura of the objects that were pulling me as I got closer to some of them,” Ekpuk says. “Some of them I’m familiar with. Some of them not so much. The power and aura of the objects themselves created an atmosphere where I felt a sense of divinity.”

Rendered in white chalk on a black wall, Ekpuk’s composition forms an abstracted figure wrapping long arms around the perimeter. Hundreds of signs and symbols are densely packed within the arms, which are themselves filled with little circles. The large figure has a placid, stylized face at the top, and its distended arms terminate in huge hands that gather the chaos of the symbols together.

The mural has a presence and an intricate density comparable to that of Anatsui’s sculpture. Ekpuk counts Anatsui as an elder, and they’ve shown together in a 1994 group exhibit in Lagos. Ekpuk was one of five up-and-coming Nigerian artists paired with a trio of established African artists.

The Yoruba divination board, however, inspired the mural’s form. Ekpuk talks about how a diviner shakes objects in the tray-like board in order to answer questions or make predictions by interpreting their proximities. Instead of objects, Ekpuk fills his mural with symbols that draw upon nsibidi, a Nigerian system of ideograms. But the symbols are so crowded and intertwined that any attempted reading will be foiled. It’s hard to focus on one sign to see what it might refer to or depict. Instead, one’s vision darts around and takes in the overall density.

“I know it teases your brain to think that you could read it,” Ekpuk laughs, “but it’s not writing that tells you A or B or C. I never try to analyze them or say that they are any one particular thing. I open it up so that people can just see what they see in it.” Echoing this semiotic openness, Ekpuk deflects talk of any overt political message in the work. But neither is it apolitical.

“I walked into the space and, initially, I thought, Let’s not just do another social-political thing. At the same time, I’ve found that art is always politics. Sometimes I don’t think about politics, but once I start making art, this feeling starts coming out in the work. After I made this, I thought, Oh, I’m actually responding to this siege that I feel right now in the political climate in America.'”

Ekpuk describes the composition as a divine embrace, but the arms could be read as a crowded space of containment, like a refugee camp or border wall. The empty zeros might exude the banal homogeneity of power.

Ekpuk won’t say it’s a wrong reading, just that he sees something different. He’s inclined to cede the artist’s intention by making a willfully undetermined work. He’s leaning toward leaving the mural untitled so that a visitor can react to what it is rather than what it means. [Editor’s note: Ekpuk ultimately decided to title the work “Divinity.”]

“It forces you to abandon what you know and have an opportunity to be aware of something else,” he says. “Not everything has to be explained. If you want to bring what you know, then you’re just going to hit the wall. Perhaps it’s sort of a comfort work, rather than an angry work. It’s a reminder that, whether we believe in it or not, there is a divine source of our strength. It’s beyond us.”

This article appeared in print with the headline “Symbol Crash”

CHARLES WILLIAMS at the Gibbes Museum

3 Jun

 

Gibbes visiting artist Charles Williams wants you to touch his paintings — and draw on them

Reestablishing the narrative

Posted by Mary Scott Hardaway on Wed, May 31, 2017

The Day After

“This feels like a family reunion,” says Charles Williams, standing, grinning, a little out of breath, surveying tables covered in crayons and blank watercolor papers; sheets of brown and white paper are hung around the room, waiting for Williams’ deft hand. This studio on the Gibbes ground floor will be Williams’ home, or at least artistic hub, for the next two weeks. He’s rushing to get everything set up — there’s a fellows luncheon in a few hours and executive director Angela Mack swings by to let him know some members may be stopping in. Williams is more than accommodating; he’s a nice guy, but he’s also confident in his work. He isn’t afraid of a few premature visitors.
“As a child I remember coming to the Gibbes, and now I’m here during Spoleto, it’s huge.” A Georgetown, S.C. native and Savannah College of Art and Design alum, Williams is a man of the Lowcountry through and through, and community is important to him, especially in Charleston. “I feel like Charleston was a city that really stood out with all that’s been happening [with race relations in the country] … it just really showed the essence of what the Lowcountry embodies. Charleston really set the bar [of how a city should respond] and I thought ‘How can I capitalize on this?'”

Hot off of “two years of intensity” at UNC Greensboro — Wiliams just graduated this spring with a Masters in Fine Art — the artist is ready to let loose, to break down barriers and knock out walls. “The power of museums and art galleries is they’re community centers. They serve multiple purposes. But when you go to these institutions, they say you can’t touch. And I understand why … but you go to these places repeatedly and they keep saying ‘you can’t do this.’ The rebellion and curiosity in me says ‘Well, what if I did touch, what if I did make a mark?'”
In his new series premiering at the Gibbes, Child’s Play: Everyone Loves the Sunshine, Williams uses old black-and-white photographs from the 1920s through 1960s that show people from different backgrounds coming together, uniting behind a common cause. Williams was inspired to seek out this theme after the multiple police brutality incidents of 2016, “There was one incident that really compelled me … that led me to create this work. What I wanted to say with this work is look at how little we’ve changed. History is like looking at our own reflection. I think when you know where you’ve been and where you’ve come from you can reposition yourself to move forward.”

And I Still Love

And, there’s no point in moving forward if we don’t move forward together. Which is where we, the public, come in. “So basically I’ve created this adult coloring book,” says Williams, directing my attention to a sheet of paper with two intricately drawn figures, two little boys, hands intertwined as one helps the other with what appears to be a hurt finger. The image is taken from one of Williams’ historic photographs, the boys fading away at the edges, surrounded by scratches of “school bus” yellow, smudges of gray, circles of red. “People can come and add color to this, draw over the figures, whatever they want.” My heart drops — let some random stranger potentially ruin this beautiful, carefully crafted work with an errant mark?
Yes. But it will not be a ruining, it will be a rendering, one that Williams will continue to work with. “Viewers can come in and paint, and recreate works with me. If they want to paint over arms or legs, that’s OK. My goal is to break down the barriers.”
Williams puts me to work, having me rip (carefully!) watercolor papers into 10×10 scratch pads that visitors will be able to color on. I’m not someone who can “eyeball” something, and I tell Williams this. But he trusts me. Trust has to be an integral part of his process — it’s trust that unites, says Williams. “When Charleston came together there was a trust that was there, that connected everyone to stand strong, to not destroy the city. Within that trust, I thought ‘What does that symbol look like?’ And that symbol looks like the handshake. Growing up, my grandfather couldn’t read or write so he told me that you have to have a firm handshake. He had five kids, and needed to provide for his family. He said ‘You look a man or woman in their eyes, shake their hand firmly, and do what you say you’re going to do.’ That establishes trust. So I was thinking, how can we in the community reestablish that?”
Williams, by highlighting images with hands that depict “strength, power, control, vulnerability, help, forgiveness,” is creating a space of trust, a space sans barriers. He doesn’t copy the images — that would miss the point entirely. He uses them as a base, a foundation that he builds on to evolve the photograph in his “own language” with intuitive mark makings and strokes. “There’s me reestablishing the narrative.”
By adding color — particularly the school bus yellow that is included in every piece in the series — Williams is making the pieces his own, and mine, and yours. Williams, ever the student, says that “all the colors are specific from my studies of the psychology of color and how they affect humans. School bus yellow in Child’s Play is observant, happy, expressive, curious … For me, I’m curious to see what viewers and participants make and do with the crayons and markers. And I can weave in and out with the marks they put. Painting has a long lineage of documenting the now. I’m pushing the envelope of how I can open the dialogue further.” And if you come into the Gibbes on a day when you’re feeling glum, or out of sorts, you don’t have to draw bright yellow sunshines on Williams’ large-scale adult coloring book. “Whatever color you’re feeling, put down that. If you’re feeling blue, use blue. That’s the beauty of it, no barriers.”

Click HERE to view available artwork by CHARLES WILLIAMS.

 

NATE LEWIS in Hyperallergic

16 May

Artist NATE LEWIS was featured in a recent review on Hyperallergic.

The Body as a Field for Graphic Experiments

A show in Harlem takes on the human form with some surprising results.

Seph Rodney

Nate Lewis, “Uninhibited Movements” (2016), hand sculpted paper photo print, 40 x 26 inches (all images courtesy Art in Flux Harlem)

It’s difficult to surprise art audiences with figurative work these days. But at a new exhibition at Art in Flux Harlem, Terrestrial Resonance, I see work that genuinely astonishes me. Nate Lewis’s “Uninhibited Movements” (2016) and “Conductor II” (2017) both are hand sculpted paper photo prints that meld the material of the photographic paper and the body depicted on that paper to work together as a field of graphic and textural exploration. Lewis, delicately and with a staggering degree of detail, makes cuts into the underlying image of a nude black male body in “Uninhibited Movements” to create a landscape that is tattooed with patterns like waves, a flock of birds wheeling in the night sky, or tribal beadwork incised into the skin. The picking done to create these vistas is so fine that I bounce back and forth between admiring the metaphor of the body as canvas for the decorative impulse and admiring the facture of the work.

To see the rest of the article, click HERE.

To see more of NATE LEWIS’ works, visit his page on our website HERE

New Artwork by KATHERINE HATTAM

9 May
KATHERINE HATTAM, A Week in Late Summer, 2017, 12″x10″, mixed media on linen
KATHERINE HATTAM, Dogs and Creek, 2017, 17″x12″, gouache on panel
KATHERINE HATTAM, Mother and Child, 2017, 12″x10″, mixed media and oil on linen
Looking at these recent Walking Tracks/Dog paintings, sometimes I think inside every figurative artist there’s an abstract artist insisting on being let out; at other times it seems simply that the division between abstraction and figuration is a false one – we are all hybrid – a bit of both.
-KATHERINE HATTAM

KATHERINE HATTAM’s artwork can be found in numerous prominent permanent collections in Australia including the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Victoria, Bendigo Art Gallery, Warrnambool Art Gallery,Mornington Art Gallery, Minter Ellison Collection, Grafton City Art Gallery,National Bank of Australia, Potter Warburg Collection, Bankers Trust Collection, Queen Victoria Hospital Collection, Box Hill City Art Gallery, George Patterson Collection, Smorgon Collection,The Darling Foundation, Hamilton City Gallery,
Heide Museum of Modern Art Art Gallery of NSW, Queensland University of Technology, Art Gallery of SA, Artbank, Queensland Art Gallery, RACV Collection, University of Queensland and LaTrobe University (LUMA).

NATALIE CHEUNG and NATE LEWIS Reviewed in The Washington Post

25 Apr

WASHINGTON POST ~ In the galleries ~ April 21, 2017

 Natalie Cheung: Increments in Time and Nate Lewis: Tensions in Tapestries On view through April 26 at Morton Fine Art, 1781 Florida Ave. NW. 202-628-2787. mortonfineart.com.

Natalie Cheung’s “31 Hours,” cyanotype on paper, on view through April 26 at Morton Fine Art. (Natalie Cheung/Courtesy of Morton Fine Art)

To judge by their titles, change must be the subject of Natalie Cheung’s cyanotypes. Each picture in her Morton Fine Art show, “Increments in Time,” is named after a period of as little as one and as many as 76 hours. This is how long it took water to evaporate from the photographic paper, yielding studies in blue, black and white.  The D.C. artist has turned the process, once used for architectural blueprints, into something abstract and unpredictable. Her pictures may resemble Rorschach tests and microscopic views, but all they truly illustrate is the process by which they were made. Their poetry is an accident of chemicals and duration.


Nate Lewis’s “Signals II,” hand-sculpted paper photo print, at Morton Fine Art. (Nate Lewis/Courtesy of Morton Fine Art)

To Nate Lewis, whose “Tensions in Tapestries” also is at Morton, the African American body is a landscape to be transformed. He cuts and scrapes black-and-white photographic portraits, removing pigment while adding patterns and flocked textures. The effect recalls African weaving and skin embellishment, but also reflects the influence of the D.C. artist’s job as an intensive-care nurse, seeking to heal the most damaged. In pieces such as “Funk and Spine,” the surface of a woman’s body is almost entirely remade, yet sinew, bone and essence endure.

– Mark Jenkins

Natalie Cheung: Increments in Time and Nate Lewis: Tensions in Tapestries On view through April 26 at Morton Fine Art, 1781 Florida Ave. NW. 202-628-2787. mortonfineart.com.

VICTOR EKPUK’s art included in Chinua Achebe’s THINGS FALL APART 60th edition

19 Apr

THINGS FALL APART 60th Anniversary

It’s a great honor to have VICTOR EKPUK’s art included in Chinua Achebe’s THINGS FALL APART 60th edition.
He also made illustrations for the cover of the sequels NO LONGER AT EASE and ARROW OF GOD. As well as a new classic edition AFRICAN TRILOGY.

Increments of Time: New Works by NATALIE CHEUNG

12 Apr
 53 Hours, 2017, 30″x 44″, cyanotype on paper
We are excited to give you a sneak preview of new works by NATALIE CHEUNG from her upcoming solo exhibition Increments in Time.
Increments in Time features Cheung’s cyanotype mappings of evaporation. Cheung’s cyanotypes are reduced to the essential elements of capturing and recording light; light, paper, chemical reaction and chance which hearken back to the scientific roots of the medium. The prints record the transition from liquid to blueprint. The title of each work indicates the hours in which it took water to evaporate completely from the paper. What remains is the aftermath of an event, a map. This work examines the way in which nature perpetually creates patterns, seemingly random and chaotic yet with regularity and repetition.
Natalie was born in Falls Church, Virginia. She received her MFA in Photography from Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia and her BFA in Photography from the Corcoran College of Art + Design in Washington, DC. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally; she has been profiled in Washington Spaces Magazine and has her work is represented in numerous collections including the Museum of Fine Art Houston and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Cheung has taught at the George Washington University as well as the Corcoran College of Art + Design and Temple University, Tyler School of Art. This marks her second solo exhibition at Morton Fine Art.
You can also see more of Natalie’s available works HERE.
 31 Hours, 2017, 30″x 44″, cyanotype on paper
76 Hours, 2017, 30″x 44″, cyanotype on paper

 1 Hour, 2017, 5″x 7″, cyanotype on paper

2 Hours, 2017, 5″x 7″, cyanotype on paper

 3 Hours (b), 2017, 8″x 9″, cyanotype on paper

 3 Hours, 2017, 8″x 9″, cyanotype on paper

 6 Hours, 2017, 8″x 9″, cyanotype on paper