Tag Archives: African Art

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)

MALIZA KIASUWA featured in Business Daily

3 Jun
ART

Artist’s wall hanging get space in UK, US galleries

FRIDAY MAY 28 2021

By MARGARETTA WA GACHERU

Coincidentally, Maliza Kiasuwa has two solo exhibitions going on simultaneously, one in London, the other in Washington DC. Meanwhile, she still has her art at Circle Art Gallery in Nairobi where the curator of Morton Fine Art Gallery, Amy Morton is giving the Belgian-Congolese artist her first Washington DC solo show from June 2 to 22.

“Amy found my work first on Instagram, which led her to Circle Art,” recalls Maliza who has had shows at Circle gallery and Alliance Francaise since she first came to Kenya with her family in early 2013.

Speaking from her farm in Naivasha where she has been fortunate to live through the Covid-19 lockdown amidst the quiet of nature, Maliza says she has pondered many things this past year, everything from the virus, racism, to pandemic fears.

The result has been a rich outpouring of artworks, 16 of which are in London at her Ancestry exhibition at the Sulger-Buel Gallery, and 21 in the Morton Gallery in DC.

“Both are entitled ‘The Pride of Origin’ but the London show focuses more on our ‘Ancestry’, while the DC exhibition is slightly more abstract,” says the artist.

The shows have a great deal in common. Both use materials that are either recycled, organic, or handmade like the Washi paper from Japan and the homemade paper that she has made herself.

And both reflect the issue of identity in ways that compel us to consider how clashing cultures, customs, convictions, and even colours can be reconciled.

“Coming from a mixed background myself, I want my children to be proud of their ancestry, their identity,” says Maliza who admits she does not classify herself as either/or European or African, since she is both.

Seeing herself as essentially an embodiment of reconciliation, she hopes that by stitching, weaving, and blending contrasting elements, her art can reveal the beauty of merger.

Yet her two exhibitions are quite different despite their shared theme, use of mixed media and mutual forms are given that most of the works are collages.

Nonetheless, she also has several three-dimensional pieces in Washington. They include her kimono-like wall-hanging entitled ‘Imperfections’, made with Washi and handmade papers, gold threads, and assorted stitched fabrics.

I found the London show both ironic and amusing while her Washington DC one is more cerebral, organic, and abstract. What is marvellous about many of the pieces up at Sulger-Buel until mid-June is the self-mockery of works like ‘The Proud of Origins Collection I and III.’

Both pieces feature engraved portraits of her Swiss spouse’s distant relations that she found in a family attic and brought back to Africa like other ‘found objects’ she picks up during her walks around Lake Naivasha and then employs in her art.

Maliza Kiasuwa’s ‘Imperfections’ artwork at the Morton Art Gallery in Washington DC, on June 2, 2021. PHOTO | POOL

It was on top of these 18th Century images that Maliza superimposes West African masks. It is as if she is making good fun not just with her people but with European colonial culture that she feels has to embrace or at least accept the reality of African culture, whether they like it or not.

The other evidence that Maliza intends for her art to make a power statement about the equal footing that African and European cultures share is contained in her two self-portraits, one in either show.

Both blend black and white fabrics, although in London she weaves in more tweed while in Washington DC she uses more hessian.

But both use the same photograph, the artist’s mug shot, looking quite stern. The big difference is the crown worn by this dreadlocked lady on which is her regal logo, Z, short for Zaire, her original African homeland.

One might have expected the artist to be at the London exhibition. But after placing African masks (the kind Picasso and Matisse adored) over those European faces, the sensibility of her show might have shifted from being ironic and witty to abusive and easily misunderstood.

The London show has several self-portraits of Maliza although they are understated with Africanised ‘crowns’ made of animal skin or plastic fishnet mesh mixed with organic fabrics.

The handmade and the manufactured stand side-by-side in Maliza’s art. Be it black and white, realistic and abstract, dynastic and libertarian; or even bourgeois and peasant, in Maliza’s world, the time for reconciliation has come, not through wars but art.

Available Artwork by MALIZA KIASUWA

Wallpaper Magazine, Victor Ekpuk and Prizm Art Fair 2020

4 Dec

ART | 1 DAY AGO | BY HARRIET LLOYD-SMITH

Prizm Art Fair gives a platform to African Diasporic perspectives

Coinciding with Miami Art Week, Prizm Art Fair is championing and examining the intersections of African cinema traditions and visual art

Sthenjwa Luthuli, Reaching For Stars (2020)

In spite of widespread coronavirus-related hurdles, 2020 has offered glimmers of hope for the art world, particularly in the steps taken to highlight, and rectify the lack of diversity across the industry.

One art fair, Prizm, has been spotlighting diverse voices in contemporary visual art since 2013, with a core mission to widen the scope of international contemporary art from Africa and the African Diaspora.

By carving out a space for cross-cultural exchange in Miami and beyond, the fair seeks to address socio-political and cultural issues pertinent to people of African descent, while educating and nurturing the city’s inhabitants.

Victor Ekpuk, Mother Series #1 (2019) as seen at Prizm Art Fair. Image courtesy of Morton Fine Art

‘African Diasporic communities have attempted repeatedly to blanket themselves from a host of incessant obstacles – systemic injustice, racism, economic disparity, gender inequality – while the goal post of progress stretched farther away with each giant leap made towards it,’ says Mikhaile Solomon, founder and director of Prizm.

For its eighth edition, coinciding with an unsurprisingly scaled-down Miami Art Week, the fair’s online programme will feature 47 artists in ‘Noir, Noir: Meditations on African Cinema and its Influence on Visual Art’, an exhibition curated and organised by Solomon and interdisciplinary artist William Cordova. Noir, Noir references the African avant-garde film tradition and encourages a deeper understanding of global African identities through the intersection of cinema and contemporary visual art. Elsewhere, highlights include a programme of film screenings and talks led by leaders in Diasporic Visual arts.

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John Baloyi, Lititha 4 (2020). Courtesy of Dyman Gallery

Participating galleries hail from eleven countries including the United States, Caribbean and the African continent including Barbados, Ethiopia, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Saint Maarten, South Africa and Trinidad. Featured artists include Victor Ekpuk, Yanira Collado, Sthenjwa Luthuli, Alicia Piller, Justice Mukheli, Versia Harris and Milena Carranza Valcárcel. Prizm will also spotlight emerging Miami-based artists who engage in socio-political issues pertinent to people of African descent, and in the city’s growth as a cultural hub. 

 

Prizm Art Fair will be accessible online until 21 December 2020. prizmartfair.com

Link to Wallpaper* Article

Available Artwork by VICTOR EKPUK

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

 

Studio visit with Ethiopian artist MERON ENGIDA

5 Aug

 

 

Ethiopian artist MERON ENGIDA shares her studio, art practice and inspiration. Contact Morton Fine Art for additional information and acquisition of her incredible paintings.

Morton Fine Art

52 O St NW #302

Washington, DC 20001

(202) 628-2787 (call or text)

mortonfineart@gmail.com

http://www.mortonfineart.com

VICTOR EKPUK’s recently created “Mother Series”

18 Sep

We are very excited to announce the arrival of three new mixed media on paper creations by internationally renowned artist, VICTOR EKPUK. The three new works are from his “Mother Series” which were created this year during his time in the US.

 

VICTOR EKPUK, Mother Series 1, 2019, 25.5″x20″, acrylic, graphite and collage on paper, Contact for price.

 

 

VICTOR EKPUK, Mother Series 2, 2019, 25.5″x20″, acrylic and collage on paper, Contact for price.

 

 

VICTOR EKPUK, Mother Series 3, 2019,25.5″x20″, acrylic, graphite and collage on paper, Contact for price.

 

About VICTOR EKPUK

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, USA

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

 

Link to available artwork by VICTOR EKPUK

 

Morton Fine Art

52 O St NW #302

Washington, DC 20001

+ 001 (202) 628-2787

mortonfineart@gmail.com

http://www.mortonfineart.com

SHOW US YOUR WALL – The New York Times feature on the art collection of Tony Gyepi-Garbrah and Desirée Venn Frederic including VICTOR EKPUK

1 Aug

THE NEW YORK TIMES

 

SHOW US YOUR WALL

Collecting to Explore ‘Origin, Culture, Form, Function and Race’

This Washington couple has floor-to-ceiling art as well as wearable creations and folk art curiosities.

Tony Gyepi-Garbrah and Desirée Venn Frederic at their residence in Washington.
Credit Ting Shen for The New York Times

By 

WASHINGTON — Desirée Venn Frederic and Tony Gyepi-Garbrah live in a light-filled apartment in the Trinidad neighborhood of Northeast Washington that is small in size but grand in scope.

The charcoal walls, stretching up to 15-foot ceilings, hold dozens of paintings, prints, photographs, 100-year-old textiles, collages, drawings, pastels, ceramics and antiques, conferring a museumlike aura on the home.

Ms. Venn Frederic is wearing art as well. Her floor-length slip dress, by the Brooklyn-based designer Fe Noel and the Chicago painter Harmonia Rosales, incorporates the image of a Yoruba deity, Oshun. Ms. Venn Frederic said the appeal of the dress was in its “fanciful and disruptive” character.

When the couple met four years ago, they were acquiring art individually. “One of the reasons I took an interest in Tony was because he understood legacy-building with art,” she said. She and Mr. Gyepi-Garbrah, 39, plan to marry later this year.

He is a first-generation American born to Ghanaian parents who works as an information technology engineer. He is also a photographer and painter.

She is of Geechee and Maroon ancestry. She was born in Freetown, Sierra Leone, and raised in Montgomery County, Md. Through her company, Combing Cotton, she pursues her interest in social equity.

“God Head” (2011), top, and “Untitled (Red and Black)” (2010), by Victor Ekpuk.
Credit Ting Shen for The New York Times

She also envisions creating a museum of fashion and related ephemera.

These are edited excerpts from the conversation.

TONY GYEPI-GARBRAH In true salon style, 75 art aficionados, collectors and artists stood shoulder-to-shoulder talking art, art, art.

How do you select works to buy?

DESIRÉE VENN FREDERIC Meticulously. I don’t merely collect what I like. I’m attracted to works that challenge the linear understandings of origin, culture, form, function and race. I call these aesthetic triggers.

GYEPI-GARBRAH We buy from galleries, art fairs and auctions. We also scour estate sales and private vintage collections. Often we buy directly from the studios of artists with whom we build friendships. I do a lot of research before acquisitions.

Is there a piece with an interesting back story?

GYEPI-GARBRAH The two mixed-media works by Victor Ekpuk. I went oversees to Galerie SANAA in Utrecht, the Netherlands, to acquire “God Head.” During that time I discovered that Ekpuk was represented by Morton Fine Art [in Washington]. They had “Untitled (Red and Black),” so I bought it too. Now the pair is in conversation. Ekpuk lives in Washington and we’ve become friends.

Figurative wood sculptures, made in Ivory Coast.

Credit Ting Shen for The New York Times

Top, “Chocolate City” (2010), by Steven M. Cummings, and “Inventions & Patents” (2014), by Charles Philippe Jean Pierre.

Credit Ting Shen for The New York Times

Those little wood statues lined up against the wall on the floor look like toys.

VENN FREDERIC They’re Colon figurative sculptures depicting occupations — policeman, doctor, baker — held by colonists in the Ivory Coast between 1893 and 1920. I have a collection of 150.

Your photos capture images that span decades and can be read as a history of our times. How do you think photography represents both society today and in the past?

GYEPI-GARBRAH Photography is a visual documentation of fleeting moments and changing landscapes, and, in this vein, we believe Steven M. Cummings is a master. “Chocolate City” speaks to forced migrations and the displacement of African-Americans from their native lands.

“Fred Meets Fred” is an oversized black-and-white double image of Frederick Douglass that contrasts past and present. A chain dangling lengthwise from top to bottom of the picture separates the two Douglasses. The bicycle wheel symbolizes change and continuance of time.

A sofa in the apartment by Sharla Hammond.
Credit Ting Shen for The New York Times

VENN FREDERIC We acquired the couch from the visual and textile artist Sharla Hammond, who was inspired by “Afro Blue” [a jazz composition recorded by John Coltrane]. The fabric depicts the heads of five Afro-clad icons — Angela Davis, Betty Davis, Pam Grier, Minnie Riperton and Diana Ross.

Above the couch that black-and-white painting seems very in-your-face.

VENN FREDERIC It’s “Cow in the Field” by Andrew Cressman. We operated a gallery in Washington and exhibited his works. I continually approached this painting with a sense of wonder and bought it after the show [in 2015]. It takes up a lot of our wall real estate. I appreciate that some pieces overwhelm, and this is one.

Read the New York Times article in full.

 

Available artwork by VICTOR EKPUK. 

 

Morton Fine Art

52 O St NW #302

Washington, DC 20001

(202) 628-2787

http://www.mortonfineart.com

mortonfineart@gmail.com

Preview of Morton Fine Art’s Booth at Prizm Art Fair in Miami

29 Nov

 

 

Sneak Preview of Morton Fine Art’s Booth at Prizm Art Fair in Miami
Contact the gallery for complimentary passes.
Morton Fine Art will be closed 12/5-12/8 during our time in Miami, however we are available by phone (202) 628-2787 or mortonfineart@gmail.com if you need to reach us!
OSI AUDU
THE TANGIBLE AND INTANGIBLE
I explore the light sheen of graphite, the matte, light absorbing quality of black pastel, the white of paper and canvas, as well as the visually affecting interactions of colors to investigate form and its evocative potential to suggest or hint at something about the shape of the head. I am interested in the dualism of form and void, and the ontological relation between the tangible and intangible, something and nothing, light and dark, body and mind, the dual nature of being – the self in portraits.
The construction of a sense of self is a very complex process, perhaps even more so in our increasingly global age, in which the boundaries between race, nationality, gender and sexuality are getting more and more blurred. I am interested in issues of self identity, and in concepts of the self rooted in my cultural experiences growing up in Nigeria, as well as global metaphysical, scientific, and social concepts of the self. There is a Yoruba thought that consciousness, referred to as the “head”, has both a physical dimension called the “outer head” and a non-physical one: “the inner head”. It is the visual implications of concepts like this that I find intriguing. The title, Self-Portrait, in my work, is more about the portrait of the intangible self, rather than a literal portrait of the artist. – OSI AUDU
COLLECTIONS
Smithsonian Museum of African Art
The Newark Museum
The British Museum
Horniman Museum
Wellcome Trust Gallery
OSI AUDU, Self-Portrait after Dogon Bird Mask II, 2018, 15″x22″, graphite and pastel on paper mounted on canvas
OSI AUDU, Self Portrait after Igbo Mask, 2018, 11″x15″, acrylic on canvas
KESHA BRUCE
KESHA BRUCE, The Sky Opened for Her, 2016, 60″x48″, mixed media on canvas
KESHA BRUCE, Fight Fire with Fire, 2017, 40″x30″, mixed media on canvas
Artwork is spiritwork.
When I pray, I ask my ancestors for the bravery to follow and make manifest the deepest truths and longings of my heart. Every artwork I create is an answered prayer.
In this current political and social moment my prayers are especially urgent: Where can Black women feel safe? Where can we feel free? How do we protect our spirits from those who mean to destroy us?
As an artist, these questions always lead me back to my work.  In my experience, the most powerful weapon for spiritual warfare is joy. I’m not being hyperbolic when I tell you that the process of making artwork has saved my life many, many times. Art is a refuge for the spirit. It offers us a way to understand and heal ourselves. I am of the mind that something absolutely prophetic can be revealed in both the act of making and the act of looking at art.
Art objects embody spiritual power.
I believe this so firmly now, that it seems almost surreal to think back to a time, not so long ago, when I was afraid to speak about my work in spiritual terms for fear of being called less serious or less intellectually rigorous. It’s clear to me now that often our fears show us the parts of ourselves that are desperately waiting to be revealed. To be set free.
So, I present this new work with the firm knowledge that what I am creating is an important and worthy contribution to the current cultural dialogue. More importantly, I consider my work a part of a strategy for resistance. Even as we steel ourselves for battle ahead, we must remember to leave room for joy.
Joy is sacred and so it is worth fighting for.
Remember to fight.
-KESHA BRUCE
SELECTED COLLECTIONS
Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (14 pieces), Washington, DC
The Amistad Center for Art and Culture, Hartford, CT
The Museum of Modern Art, Franklin Furnace Artist Book Collection, New York, NY
The University of Iowa Women’s Center, Iowa City, IA
The En Foco Photography Collection, New York, NY
The Museum of Modern Art/Franklin Furnace Artist Book Collection, New York, NY
NATHANIEL DONNETT
African textiles, Gee’s Bend Quilts, and the everyday aesthetic within
the historic African American neighborhoods of Houston, Texas inspire “Boom”. This
work acts as a reminder to the extrinsic value of these neighborhoods through the
lens of its spatial geography and relationship to gentrification, along with objects
and form in terms of cultural iconography, and the everyday aesthetic. Drum
notations and Houston’s hip-hop car culture formulate the abstract patterns. These
patterns act as a response to the marginalization of Black American identity, the black spatial imaginary, and contemporary art. During the times of American slavery, it was said that southern quilts communicated warnings to the slaves.
Although this was found to be a myth, this contemporary makeshift quilt does
communicate moments of neighborhood erasure and the silencing of its cultural
contributions. It also simultaneously celebrates the neighborhood’s cultural socio-
consciousness and overall complexity.
-NATHANIEL DONNETT
MUSEUM EXHIBITIONS
The Ulrich Museum, Wichita, KS
The McColl Center, Charlotte, NC
The American Museum, Washington, DC
The Kemper Contemporary Arts Museum, Kansas City, MO
The Theresa Hotel, Harlem, NY
Harvey B Gantt Art Center for African American Arts and Culture, Charlotte, NC
The Community Artist’s Collective
The Mattatuck Museum, Waterbury CT
The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Houston, TX
Project Row Houses, Houston, TX
The University Museum, Houston, TX
The New Museum, New York, NY
NATHANIEL DONNETT, Boom, 2018, 40″x46″, duct tape, plastic and photographs on paper
VICTOR EKPUK
VICTOR EKPUK, Head 4, 2015, 45″x48″, acyrlic on panel
VICTOR EKPUK, Mask Series 1, 2018, 24″x18″, acrylic on canvas
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” -Victor Ekpuk
COLLECTIONS
Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
Smithsonian Museum of African Art
Brooks Museum
Krannert Art Museum
Arkansas Art Center
Fidelity Investments
Newark Museum
The World Bank
University of Maryland University College Art Collection
The U. S. Department of State
MAYA FREELON
Maya Freelon is an award-winning visual artist whose work was described by the late poet Maya Angelou as “visualizing the truth about the vulnerability and power of the human being.” Cosmopolitan Magazine featured her in June 2015 in “Art Stars” calling her one “of the most badass female artists in the biz.”  She was commissioned by Google to design original art for their OnHub router, by Cadillac to create a live-sculpture for their Dare Greatly creative campaign, and by the North Carolina Museum of Art to create a collaborative tissue paper sculpture celebrating the opening of their African Art wing. Her unique tissue paper art, praised by the International Review of African American Art as “a vibrant, beating assemblage of color,” has been exhibited internationally, including shows in Paris, Jamaica, Madagascar, and Italy. She was selected by Modern Luxury Magazine as Best of the City; by Huffington Post as “Black Artists: 30 Contemporary Art Makers Under 40 You Should Know”; and by Complex magazine as “15 Young Black   Artists Making Waves in the Art World.”  Maya has completed residencies at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine, the Korobitey Institute in Ghana, and the Brandywine Workshop in Philadelphia. She earned a BA from Lafayette College and an MFA from theSchool of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
COLLECTIONS
U.S. State Department
U.S. Embassy in Madagascar
U.S. Embassy Swaziland
U.S. Embassy Rome
The University of Maryland (David C. Driskell Center)
Johns Hopkins University
Rocketship Rise Academy;
The Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists
The Reginald F. Lewis Museum
The School of the Museum of Fine Arts The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Lafayette College
The Brandywine Workshop
The Experimental Printmaking Institute
The Williston Northampton School
The Kokrobitey Institute
Lewis Tanner Moore
Dr. Maya Angelou
photo credit: Christopher Charles
MAYA FREELON, Compression, 2017, 44″x34″, tissue ink monoprint
MAYA FREELON, Intuition, 2017, 46″x44″, tissue ink monoprint
AMBER ROBLES-GORDON
AMBER ROBLES-GORDON, Awakening the Matrilineal: Calling in the West, 36″x36″, mixed media on canvas
AMBER ROBLES-GORDON, Awakening the Matrilineal: South and of the Fire, 2016, 34″x35″, mixed media on canvas
Awakening the Matrilineal
“My artwork is a visual representation of my hybridism: a fusion of my gender, ethnicity, cultural, and social experiences. I impose colors, imagery, and materials that evoke femininity and tranquility with the intent of transcending or balancing a specific form. I associate working with light, color, and energy as a positive means to focus on the healing power found in the creative process and within us all. It is my belief that colors have both feminine and masculine energies and each color represents a specific aspect of nature.” -Amber Robles Gordon
COLLECTIONS
Judith A. Hoffberg Archive Library
University of California, Santa Barbara, CA Masterpiece Miniature Art Exhibition, Kuala Lumpur,
Malaysia Capital One Bank, Mc Clean,Virginia District of Columbia’s Art Bank, Washington, D.C.
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York, NY
The Gautier Family Collection, Washington, DC
NATE LEWIS
In continuing my work with black figures I sculpt in unseen tensions of the past present and future on bodies with the idea of utilizing diagnostic lenses and contrast dyes to reveal erased and unknown histories and patterns.
Through the use of presence, absence, distortion and illusion and while in a time when the digital world has severe control of our information feeds I aim to challenge our lens’, the powers that hold our attention, and create opportunities for questioning and perspective alteration.
In my time working as a critical care nurse, we would use a multitude of lenses to gain a broad understanding of what is going on with any given situation to find homeostasis. While facts and diagnostic information can inform us of any given situation, without empathy and perspective alteration, our hearts will remain unchanged.
– NATE LEWIS
Nate Lewis grew up in Beaver Falls, near Pittsburgh, Pa. He graduated from VCU with his BSN and was a practicing critical care nurse for five years as well as professional fine artist. He has been awarded prestigious residencies at Pioneer Works and Dieu Donne in NYC, Agora Culture on Martha’s Vineyard and won a number of artist fellowship grants from the DC Commission of the Arts and Humanities.
NATE LEWIS, Spirit Suite, 2018, 21.5″x26″, hand sculpted photo paper print
NATE LEWIS, Traverse Suite, 2018, 26″x26″, hand sculpted photo paper print
About Morton Fine Art
Founded in 2010 in Washington, DC, 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 anyone can become an art collector or enthusiast, 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
52 O St NW #302
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 628-2787
For further information and images, please contact Amy Morton:
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OSI AUDU’s “Dialogues with African Art” at Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild in New York

11 Oct

Osi Audu: Dialogues with African Art – Artist’s Talk and Opening Reception

When:   October 20, 2018 @ 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Where:   BYRDCLIFFE Kleinert/James Center for the Arts, 36 Tinker Street, Woodstock, NY

Opening on Friday October 19, the Kleinert/James Center for the Arts presents the solo exhibition OSI AUDU: DIALOGUES WITH AFRICAN ART. Mr. Audu, who lives in Hurley, New York, will give an artist’s talk on Saturday, October 20, at 3:00 pm. The public opening reception for the show follows at 4:00 pm on Saturday.

OSI AUDU: DIALOGUES WITH AFRICAN ART examines issues of identity rooted in the artist’s cultural experiences growing up in Nigeria, as well as broader metaphysical and social concepts of the self. Audu’s paintings, some of them very large in scale, are influenced by the abstract geometric possibilities in traditional African sculpture; thus the exhibition also includes examples of original nineteenth- and twentieth-century African sculpture that the artist uses as inspiration for his work. Describing the works in the show, Audu writes: “I am interested in the dualism of form and void, and the metaphysical relation between the tangible and intangible, something and nothing, light and dark, body and mind, the dual nature of being—the self in portraits.” The title “self-portrait” that Audu uses in his work is about the portrait of the intangible self, rather than a literal portrait of the artist.

Osi Audu is a Nigerian-American artist whose work has been shown in numerous international exhibitions including the Kwangju Biennale, Venice Biennale, the Africa-Africa exhibition at the Tobu Museum, Japan, and the Museum of the Mind at the British Museum. His work has also been exhibited at and collected by public institutions including the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art in Washington DC, The Newark Museum in Newark, New Jersey, the British Museum, Horniman Museum, and Wellcome Trust Gallery, all in London, the Hood Museum at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, and the Mott-Warsh Collection in Flint, Michigan. His work has also been acquired for corporate collections including by Sony Classical New York, the Fidelity Investment Corporation in Boston, Massachusetts, and the Schmidt Bank in Germany.

Audu curated an international exhibition of contemporary African art which opened at the N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art in Detroit in September 2017, then traveled to the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at the State University of New York, New Paltz, and the August Wilson Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 2018.

He is a current recipient of the Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant.

The exhibition is curated by Sylvia Leonard Wolf, who is the chair of the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild’s Exhibition Committee. A full color catalogue accompanies the exhibition. Below is an excerpt from an essay in the catalogue:

Audu is, in effect, reclaiming abstraction…Through the language of abstraction, Audu seeks to create a container or a frame for the intangible that is the self. In choosing to dialogue with works of African art that are themselves symbolic representations of concepts, he situates his geometric abstraction firmly within African ontologies. And in doing so, he also makes tangible the intangible, or perhaps hidden, presence of African sculpture within the legacy of Western modernism.
— Christa Clarke, Ph.D. (Senior Curator, Arts of Global Africa, Newark Museum)

OSI AUDU: DIALOGUES WITH AFRICAN ART is open through Sunday, December 2. The gallery is open Thursday-Sunday: 12:00 – 6:00 pm or by appointment. School groups and other organizations can schedule group visits with the artist by contacting derin@woodstockguild.org.

Click HERE to view available artwork by  OSI AUDU.