Tag Archives: African Art Collecting

Partnership between global digital platform for art from Africa and the African Diaspora | Pavillon 54 | and Morton Fine Art

19 Jul

ENGAGING THE STORY OF ART FOR A SUSTAINABLE AFRICAN ART MARKET: THE PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN PAVILLON54 AND MORTON FINE ART

ENGAGING THE STORY OF ART FOR A SUSTAINABLE AFRICAN ART MARKET: THE PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN PAVILLON54 AND MORTON FINE ART

JULY 16, 2021

Amy Morton at Morton Fine Art gallery

As the one-stop global digital platform and community for art from Africa and the Diaspora, Pavillon54 always seeks to enter fruitful partnerships with artists, curators, collectors, and galleries. It became only natural, then, that for the next step of our development, we partnered with some of the most exciting international galleries that specialise in contemporary African art and share our vision for the African art market.

A couple of months ago, Pavillon54 entered a partnership with Morton Fine Art, a Washington DC gallery and curatorial group, headed by Amy Morton, that provides museum-quality art with a focus on the African Diaspora. We were instantly drawn to Morton Fine Art due to their impressive roster of artists and the diversity of their offering, whether geographically, in style, in medium, or in the range of artists themselves. What was most captivating, however, was our shared vision to go beyond the commercialisation of African art and to tell the underlying stories—an essential element to foster a sustainable development of the market.

With Pavillon54’s expertise in the African art market and digital strategy, combined with Morton Fine Art’s incredible roster of artists, finding contemporary African art that is not only aesthetically exceptional, but also enriched in narrative, becomes easier for the African art collector. Together, Pavillon54 and Morton Fine Art are making high-calibre contemporary African art more accessible, more transparent, and more meaningful.

We sat down with founder and curator Amy Morton, to learn more about how Morton Fine Art was founded, and what makes it an extraordinary destination for African art.

Artwork of Victor Ekpuk, Kesha Bruce and GA Gardner

Gallery View at Morton Fine Art, Artworks by Victor Ekpuk, Kesha Bruce and GA Gardner

P54: How did Morton Fine Art come to be? What was the driving force or need to be filled that resulted in the creation of the gallery?

AM: I founded Morton Fine Art in 2010. My first exhibition was launched early that year under Morton Fine Art’s trademark mobile gallery, a pop-up project in Washington, DC in the Penn Quarter neighborhood. It was in a former gallery space which I had leased short term, for a three-month period. I was interested in curating an exhibition that I felt positioned substantive art in the market and quickly realized I needed a permanent location to continue in that vein. I then leased a space in Adams Morgan, a quirky district in DC known for independent businesses. Morton Fine Art was in that location for 9 years before moving to a flourishing creative community in Truxton Circle at 52 O St NW, where it has been for nearly 3 years. 

From its inception, the inclusion of diverse voices, nurturing a safe space and working with an educational stance has been at the forefront of the gallery’s mission. I am firmly committed to a comfortable and intimate gallery space intended for exploration and journeying through visual art.  

P54: Why the focus on the African Diaspora?

AM: I have always been interested in and open to artwork and original voices from all over the world. Interconnectedness between people and exploring the human condition fascinates me. I value our collective overlaps and progressions toward deeper shared understandings and relationships. In the 90’s I attended Occidental College in Los Angeles, where my studies in art were informed by a strong commitment to equity and diversity. I think the combination of these personal priorities resulted in a natural inclusion of artists from the African diaspora, as well as from many other places and orientations, whose practice foregrounds pertinent, globally relevant, philosophical questions. With these values at the center of my work, Morton Fine Art’s curatorial vision has bloomed and been enriched organically.  

My vision for the gallery, as well as for my life, is to create a safe space for dialogue and the sharing of ideas. In that way, the evolution of the gallery has been very process-oriented, and not something that was artificially orchestrated or even conscious much of the time. It continues to be a growth-oriented work in progress. I studied fine art and art history and appreciate that visual art is a potent tool for highlighting issues which may otherwise be difficult for people to address. I am attracted to the intersection of art and activism, and how artwork can be an effective tool for personal introspection, interaction, dialogue and ultimately, I hope, change and growth. 

Osi Audu, Self Portrait, after Head of a Shango Staff, 2017 | Pavillon 54  Limited

 Osi Audu ‘Self Portrait, after Head of a Shango Staff’ (2017)

P54: What qualities do you see in an artist when you sign them on and how do these connect with the mission of Morton Fine Art?

AM: I usually know we are well matched right away. My artist partners are incredible at what they do! First and foremost, their creative vision and visual language inspire me on such a deep level. Examples include Osi Audu‘s philosophical exploration of “The Tangible and Intangible Self “; Victor Ekpuk‘s mining of historical narratives, the vocabulary of the contemporary African diaspora, and humanity’s connection to the sacred;  Rosemary Feit Covey‘s attention and sensitivity to the delicacy of earth and the natural world; Maliza Kiasuwa and Meron Engida‘s themes of reconciliation; and Lizette Chirrime’s interconnectivity between art practice, spirituality and healing.

Rosemary Feit Covey, Amethyst Deceivers II, 2019 | Pavillon 54 Limited

Rosemary Feit Covey ‘Amethyst Deceivers II’ (2019)

Their deep and meaningful engagement with these themes is what powers my belief in them and commitment to uplifting their voices. The artwork shown here is purely the artists’ visions, created without gallery interference. I look for long-term partnerships, so synergy is also important. The relationship needs to be trust-based and natural as we often spend years working together. These strong personal connections are important for understanding the creations themselves, allowing me to do my job better.

Victor Ekpuk - Works | Pavillon 54 Limited

 Victor Ekpuk ‘Mask Series 2’ (2018)

P54: What excites you most about the African art market, and working in this field?

AM: Learning, evolving, exploring questions and shared histories, and meeting artists with lasting substance and incredible talent—there is an abundance of all of that in the African art market. It is endless. With art, I can never be bored—either when exploring an individual piece I connect with or with creations at large. Art is a mirror, and it fascinates me to see what is revealed in a moment and how more reveals itself with time. Contemporary artists remind us of where we are, including our shortcomings and our most sacred parts. They invite us to do better.

Maliza Kiasuwa, Brown Skin 1, 2021 | Pavillon 54 Limited

Maliza Kiasuwa ‘Brown Skin 1’ (2021)

P54: What are some of Morton Fine Art’s greatest moments or achievements?

AM: First and foremost, I am proud to have such outstanding artist partners who center substantive concepts and demonstrate a mastery of medium. The artists I work with are thoughtful, tremendous and have so much to say and share! The backbone of the gallery is our partnership, as is our shared trust in each other. It is fascinating to see organic shifts and developments in their artwork and art practice, knowing their growth informs new iterations of brilliance. It is also very rewarding to witness their points of public-facing recognition, including in national and international museums and publications. 

Meron Engida - Works | Pavillon 54 Limited

Meron Engida ‘Solidarity 9’ (2020)

AM: I am personally proud of the warm vibe of the space and the maturity of conversations and experiences shared here through art. This is a gallery for everyone to explore, regardless of experience or exposure to art.  Authenticity is valued as are questions and feelings, even when layered.  In many ways it has the intimacy and hominess of a salon, and that facilitates connection with artists, collectors and enthusiasts alike.

Morton Fine Art

52 O St NW #302

Washington, DC 20001

(202) 628-2787

info@mortonfineart.com

http://www.mortonfineart.com

MALIZA KIASUWA featured in Nation and allAfrica

28 Jun

Kenya: Artist Takes Pride in Her Ancestry

By Margaretta Wa Gacheru

Having transformed a hay-filled barn into a giant home studio, Malisa Kiasuwa has been working throughout the Covid-19 lockdown preparing for two exhibitions currently underway overseas. One is in Washington, DC, while the other is in London.

Both sharing the theme, The Pride of Origins, the Naivasha-based Malisa has previously exhibited in Nairobi at Circle Art Gallery and at Alliance Francaise. But Amy Morton of the Morton Fine Art Gallery in Washington found Malisa on Instagram, the social medium currently accommodating many local fine artists.

Nonetheless, while visiting Kenya in 2019, Morton found her way to Circle Art where she got an even better impression of Malisa’s organically-based artistry.

“Amy was and still is interested in featuring contemporary African art at her gallery, which is how she got to know me,” says the Belgian-Congolese artist whose 21 collages and wall hangings featured in her first solo show in DC from June 2to 22.

Soulful spotlight

Meanwhile, another 16 of Malisa’s collages are featuring now at the Sulger-Buel Gallery in London, where the artist has set her soulful spotlight on not just the Pride of Origins but specifically on the notion of ancestry.

Malisa works with an array of mixed media, including organic materials like raffia grass, sisal rope, handmade papers, scraps of fabric, and threads made out of cotton and silk, silver and gold. She blends them with found objects that she collects during her frequent walks around the lake and Naivasha town.

The upcycling of found objects appeal to the artist’s concern for conservation. Her use of organic materials reflects her desire to stay close to the purity of nature. But during the lockdown, Malisa reflected upon all the many clashing contradictions festering in the world, including the ‘virus of racism’ and the coronavirus, the Black Lives Matter movement and the rise of white supremacy.

An example of reconciliation

She desires to see the reconciliation of these extremes, a coming together of disparate elements in the name of peace.

“I see myself as an example of reconciliation since my background is both European and African,” says Malisa.

In a sense, both exhibitions are about Identity, reconciliation, and ‘the pride of origins’. These themes are symbolised most visibly in her London show where she includes collages that combine engraved portraits of 18th-century European aristocrats upon whose faces Malisa has affixed wooden West African masks (the kind that enthralled Western artists like Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse).

“I found the engravings of my [Swiss] husband’s ancestors in an attic of his family’s home,” says Malisa who saw the etchings had been forgotten, so she brought them back to Kenya where she and her family have been living since 2013.

Treating them like the other ‘found objects’ that she uses to upcycle into her art, the masks superimposed on the faces of these bourgeois white men are meant to symbolize what reconciliation might look like. Yet the juxtaposition of the two-dimensional etchings and the three-dimensional masks could also be interpreted in other ways, either to amuse or to annoy.

There’s an irony of her embellishing the men’s portraits with African masks which had once been used in sacred rituals and infused with mystical powers. At the same time, Western aristocrats are not the only ‘nobility’ in the London show.

Malisa herself comes from West African nobility. “My father’s ‘tribe’ is Ndongo, the same one as Queen Zinga [or Nzinga] of Congo,” she recalls. Noting that Zinga was renowned for her military and diplomatic leadership which is credited for fending off Portuguese colonialism and slave trade for over 30 years.

Zinga is often identified as coming from Angola, but Malisa explains the Ndongo kingdom, before the colonial carving up of Africa in the 19th century, traversed northern Angola as well as southern Congo.

“Our people had lived on the border of what is now Congo,” says Malisa, adding that she wants her children to take pride in their shared ancestry.

In both exhibitions, there is at least one explicitly autobiographic collage featuring a mug shot of the artist wearing a crown, either made of hand-made paper or animal skin. As if enthroned in her exhibition just as Queen Zinga headed her vast kingdom, the letter ‘Z’ is emblazoned on each crown, standing at once for Zinga and for Zaire, which was the name of her country at the time that she was born.

Read the original article on Nation.

Available artwork by MALIZA KIASUWA

Morton Fine Art, 52 O St NW #302, Washington, DC 20001 USA

http://www.mortonfineart.com

info@mortonfineart.com

+001 (202) 628-2787 (call or text)

3 Questions Digital Series with Victor Ekpuk – U.S. Department of State, Art in Embassies

19 Mar

Victor Ekpuk is a Nigerian-born contemporary artist based in Washington, DC. His art, which began as an exploration of nsibidi “traditional” graphics and writing systems in Nigeria, has evolved to embrace a wider spectrum of meaning that is rooted in African and global contemporary art discourses. His art is inspired by nsibidi, a sacred means of communication among male secret societies in southeastern Nigeria. Evolving out of the graphic and writing systems of nsibidi, Ekpuk’s art embraces a wider spectrum of meaning to communicate universal themes. “The subject matter of my work deals with the human condition explained through themes that are both universal and specific: family, gender, politics, culture and identity.”

For over five decades, Art in Embassies (AIE) has played a leading role in U.S. public diplomacy through a focused mission of vital cross-cultural dialogue and understanding through the visual arts and dynamic artist exchange. The Museum of Modern Art first envisioned this global visual arts program in 1953, and President John F. Kennedy formalized it at the U.S. Department of State in 1963. Today, Art in Embassies is an official visual arts office within the U.S. Department of State, engaging over 20,000 participants globally, including artists, museums, galleries, universities, and private collectors. It encompasses over 200 venues in 189 countries.

Professional curators and registrars create and ship about 60 exhibitions per year, and since 2000, over 70 permanent collections have been installed in the Department’s diplomatic facilities throughout the world. Art in Embassies fosters U.S. relations within local communities world-wide – in the last decade, more than 100 artists have traveled to countries participating in AIE’s exchange programs and collaborated with local artists to produce works now on display in embassies and consulates. Going forward, AIE will continue to engage, educate, and inspire global audiences, showing how art can transcend national borders and build connections among peoples.

https://art.state.gov/

Available artwork by VICTOR EKPUK at Morton Fine Art

VICTOR EKPUK- featured solo in Morton Fine Art’s booth at Prizm Art Fair 2020

5 Nov

NOIR, NOIR:
MEDITATIONS ON AFRICAN
CINEMA AND ITS INFLUENCE
ON VISUAL ART
PRIZM 2020 – dedicated to exhibiting international artists from the African Diaspora – returns with its eighth edition, taking place from December 1 to 21, 2020. A VIP preview week will take place from November 24 to 30, 2020. PRIZM Art Fair 2020 will be available for online viewing through the PRIZM website and Artsy.net. Film screenings and PRIZM’s panel talks program will be available through the fair’s website.For its eighth edition, PRIZM will present a curated exhibition entitled Noir, Noir: Meditations on African Cinema and Its Influence On Visual Art curated and organized by William Cordova, and Mikhaile Solomon. The special section will include 45 artists from various global locales including, Congo, Haiti, Jamaica, Barbados, Nigeria, Trinidad and Tobago, Saint Maarten, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, and the United States. 

Noir Noir…” revisits and contemplates the layered rendering of complex communal histories through the lens of African/Diasporic filmmakers past and present, seeking a deeper understanding of global African identity through an evaluation of its intersections with contemporary visual art. Noir, Noir will examine how these films have functioned as harbingers of global African/Diasporic liberation movements and expound on the intersections between contemporary art practice and the spectrum of African/Diasporic film traditions. Noir, Noir references the African avant-garde film tradition as well as contemporary African/Diasporic filmmakers to explore how visual artists have created bodies of work inspired by narratives, aesthetics, cultural notes, and social commentaries poetically rendered in the various cinematic modalities.

Register HERE

 

Victor Ekpuk is a Nigerian-American artist based in Washington, DC. 

His art, which began as an exploration of nsibidi “traditional” graphics and writing systems in Nigeria, has evolved to embrace a wider spectrum of meaning that is rooted in African and global contemporary art discourses. 

Guided by the aesthetic philosophy nsibidi, where sign systems are used to convey ideas, Ekpuk re-imagines graphic symbols from diverse cultures to form a personal style of mark making that results in the interplay of art and writing. 

Ekpuk’s art reflects his experiences as a global artist – “The subject matter of my work deals with the human condition explained through themes that are both universal and specific: family, gender, politics, culture and Identity”.

Mr. EKPUK’s artwork can be found the permanent collection of the following museums and institutions:

Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture, Washington, DC

Smithsonian Museum of African Art, Washington DC, USA

Krannert Art Museum, USA

Hood Museum, USA

Brooks Museum, USA

Arkansas Art Center, USA

Newark Museum, New Jersey, USA

The World Bank, Washington DC, USA

University of Maryland University College Art Collection, USA 

The U.S. Department of State

He has been represented by Morton Fine Art in Washington, DC since 2012.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW AVAILABLE ARTWORK BY VICTOR EKPUK

Morton Fine Art, 52 O St NW #302, Washington, DC 20001

(202) 628-2787, info@mortonfineart.com, http://www.mortonfineart.com

 

Ethiopian artist MERON ENGIDA’s debut U.S. solo exhibition “Solidarity” at Morton Fine Art in DC

30 Sep

 

 

Virtual tour and artist talk of MERON ENGIDA’s debut U.S. solo exhibition, Solidarity.
Launching on Morton Fine Art’s YouTube channel.  Contact the gallery for private viewing appointments, price list and acquisition.
MERON ENGIDA's debut U.S. solo exhibition "Solidarity" with artist talk at Morton Fine Art, DC
MERON ENGIDA’s solo exhibition Solidarity and artist talk at Morton Fine Art, Washington, DC.
Video credit: Jarrett Hendriix
Solidarity
A solo exhibition of paintings by MERON ENGIDA
September 22nd – October 28th, 2020
VIRTUAL TOUR and ARTIST TALK
On Morton Fine Art’s YouTube Channel TODAY
Contact the gallery for private viewing appointment, price list, additional information and acquisition.
(202) 628-2787 (call or text)
MERON ENGIDA, Solidarity 3, 2020, 33″x35.5″, acrylic on canvas
About Solidarity
My art has been my language to express myself and my voice. My work explores personal experiences and my Ethiopian cultural heritage. Oftentimes my subject matter reflects my life as a mother in a multiracial family. My figures are diverse and often huddled together, with wide eyes. Children and lambs are the visual vocabulary I use to express innocence and forgiveness. I intend to create dialogue about diversity and women – for example, a face with open mouth represents women freely exploring and expressing themselves. Women also hold in more pain than they let out and hold each other demonstrating resilience. My most recent series addresses challenges of race and identity. One painting depicts figures from all of the Ethiopian tribes together, celebrating each other’s uniqueness. My inner feelings and values call for the love, embrace and celebration of humanity, transcending past and present, despite our differences. – MERON ENGIDA, 2020
MERON ENGIDA, See the Love, 2020 36″x36″, acrylic on canvas
MERON ENGIDA, Solidarity 11, 2020, 36″x36″, acrylic on canvas
About MERON ENGIDA
Born in Ethiopia, MERON ENGIDA received her degree from Addis Ababa University School of Fine Arts and Design in 2007.
She has exhibited her paintings extensively in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia including at the National Art Gallery. Solidarity marks her inaugural U.S. solo exhibition at Morton Fine Art in Washington, DC. She notes, “When I start a painting, there are no rules. Sometimes I work from pictures but most of the time I create from imagination. Sometimes I start with a drawing and other times with acrylic paint on canvas which I layer with tones, symbols, and a motif. The figures emerge with expressive features, emotions, and texture. I work on the paintings with trusting mark-making, not knowing where I’m going. My creative process continues until I am surprised and content and then I revisit later to see if it is indeed finished.”
She is represented by Morton Fine Art in Washington, DC.
MERON ENGIDA, Solidarity 5, 2020, 30.5″x76.5″, acrylic on canvas
MERON ENGIDA, Solidarity 9, 2020, 33.5″x32″, acrylic on canvas
About Morton Fine Art
Founded in 2010 in Washington, DC by curator Amy Morton, Morton Fine Art (MFA) is a fine art gallery and curatorial group that collaborates with art collectors and visual artists to inspire fresh ways of acquiring contemporary art. Firmly committed to the belief that art collecting can be cultivated through an educational stance, MFA’s mission is to provide accessibility to museum-quality contemporary art through a combination of substantive exhibitions and a welcoming platform for dialogue and exchange of original voice. Morton Fine Art specializes in a stellar roster of nationally and internationally renowned artists as well as has an additional focus on artwork of the African Diaspora.
Morton Fine Art
52 O St NW #302
Washington, DC 20001
COVID-19 protocol: By appointment. Mask required. Contact the gallery for supplementary artwork documentation such as detail images and short videos. Safe, no contact door to door delivery available. Shipping nationally and internationally.