Tag Archives: Contemporary Artists

NATE LEWIS featured in MASS ART’s new exhibition ‘LEGACY OF THE COOL: A TRIBUTE TO BARKLEY L. HENDRICKS’

27 Jan

MassArt

Massachusetts College of Art + Design brings us this poignant exhibition as a tribute to artist Barkley L. Hendricks’ legacy and a celebration of new generations of figurative artists of color. Many of these artists work in the same spirit as Hendricks and portray themselves; their friends, families, and communities; and the complexities of their lives in captivating and thought-provoking images. Through varied media and diverse approaches, they chronicle the present moment and their work often questions dominant cultural narratives and addresses important contemporary issues.

Dates: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 to Saturday, March 3, 2018
Gallery: Bakalar & Paine Galleries 621 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02115
Gallery Hours: Monday – Saturday 12:00pm – 6:00pm • Wednesdays 12:00pm – 8:00pm Free and open to the public

Press: Boston Globe

Available Artwork by Nate Lewis can be found on Morton Fine Art’s website by following the highlighted link.  Please feel free to contact the gallery for a copy of Lewis’ extended artist bio and additional acquisition details!

 

 

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VONN SUMNER’s “Bread and Circuses (and Walls) reviewed in The Washington Post

4 Oct

VONN SUMNER, A Big Fat Beautiful Wall, 2017, 80″x65″, acrylic and collage on linen

Vonn Sumner

A Californian whose ancestors lived in that state when it was still part of Mexico, Vonn Sumner is not one of the “build the wall” crowd. His response to that chant is the series of paintings in “Bread and Circuses (and Walls).” The biggest piece in the Morton Fine Art show, “A Big Fat Beautiful Wall,” stacks bricklike blocks of bright color, each rectangle graced with a traditional Mexican decorative paper appliqué. The painter also depicts barriers that almost hide the carnival-style festivities behind them.

Updating a phrase that dates to Juvenal, who satirized life in Rome almost two millennia ago, Sumner paints jesters in colorful, bellfestooned hoods. Many of the performers have loaves of Mexican-style sweet bread balanced on their heads. The clowns look sideways at the edge of the pictures, skeptically avoiding the viewer’s gaze. They don’t want to join the circus parade.

Sumner paints in a realist style, deftly employing modeling and shadow to simulate roundness and depth. Yet he intentionally simplifies, notably by using areas of intense, simple hues that suggest both comic books and color-field painting. The effect is to invoke universal forms — things that will outlast the biggest, most beautiful wall. Vonn Sumner: Bread and Circuses (and Walls) On view through Oct. 3 at Morton Fine Art, 1781 Florida Ave. NW. 202-628-2787. mortonfineart.com.

Click HERE to view available artwork by VONN SUMNER.

A sneak peek preview of JASON SHO GREEN’s robotic installation!

20 Feb

Don’t miss the OPENING RECEPTION of “Reveries” this Friday, February 21st from 6-8pm!

The exhibit will feature robotic installations & drawings by JASON SHO GREEN and ceramic installations & wall mounted sculptures by VICTORIA SHAHEEN

February 21st, 2014 – March 18th, 2014

THE GUARDIANS, a solo exhibition of new work by artist KESHA BRUCE. December 14th, 2013-January 8th, 2014.

19 Dec

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About the Guardians:

In the winter of 2011, Kesha Bruce awoke in the early morning hours to see a figure hovering silently at the foot of her bed. This brief moment of fascination, terror, and eventually wonder, has beenthe obsessive focus of her work for nearly three years. To date, Bruce has completed nearly 200 works based on The Guardians – a group of solemn, mysterious figures who act as watchers, keepers, and protectors.
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About Kesha Bruce:
Sidestepping the weight and implications of formalized religion forthe better part of her career, Bruce’s work has explored the fertile territory of memory, mythology, African-American folklore, and magical-spiritual belief. With The Guardians her work makes a shift towards questioning not only the place of spiritual practice in contemporary culture, but also the place of genuine spiritual experience in contemporary art making.

THE GUARDIANS Opening Reception and Artist Talk

18 Dec

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

About the Guardians:

In the winter of 2011, Kesha Bruce awoke in the early morning hours to see a figure hovering silently at the foot of her bed. This brief moment of fascination, terror, and eventually wonder, has beenthe obsessive focus of her work for nearly three years. To date, Bruce has completed nearly 200 works based on The Guardians – a group of solemn, mysterious figures who act as watchers, keepers, and protectors.
Sidestepping the weight and implications of formalized religion forthe better part of her career, Bruce’s work has explored the fertile territory of memory, mythology, African-American folklore, and magical-spiritual belief. With The Guardians her work makes a shift towards questioning not only the place of spiritual practice in contemporary culture, but also the place of genuine spiritual experience in contemporary art making.
The show will run through January 8th, 2014

VICTOR EKPUK’s solo reviewed by Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi and featured in CONTEMPORARY AND

18 Sep

Composition 11, Courtesy of the Artist

Composition 11, Courtesy of the Artist

MEMORY IS CENTRAL TO VICTOR EKPUK’S ARTISTIC PRACTICE. IT ENCOMPASSES THE RECEIVED, APPROPRIATED, LIVED, AND IMAGINED.

by Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi

Victor Ekpuk’s creative process involves moments of quietude in which he digs studiously into his memory bank for visual clarity. The calm search for acuity, very revealing of the artist’s interest in human experiences, frames Reminiscences and Current Musings. In a way, this solo effort is a retrospective because it draws from several bodies of work produced by the artist between 1996 and 2013. The 20 works in the exhibition represent the artist’s meditations on his social experiences, drawing from Nigeria and the United States, his country of birth and residency respectively, and, as with most contemporary artists, other worlds that he has experienced in the course of several international artists residencies and exhibitions in the last few years.

Memory is central to Ekpuk’s artistic practice. It encompasses the received, appropriated, lived, and imagined. It can be attached to a particular place to invoke Pierre Nora’s notion of Lieux de Mémoire [1], or a social experience that is conceptually articulated without claims to spatial specificity or a tangible context. Nora’s Lieux de Mémoire monumentalizes collective memory by rooting it in the concrete, in spaces, in gestures, objects, and images. Yet for Ekpuk, memory is a metaphor for unloading a stream of consciousness that is tied to either a specified or an unspecified social space. It is also a state of being; a meditative process of creative remembering of the personal and the collective.

Using invented scripts and imageries that evolved from the cryptic nsibidi writing system that is autochthonous to eastern Nigeria, Ekpuk translates the human experience both transparently and symbolically. It is no secret that the nsibidi ideographic forms now function as a conceptual backdrop for him. Earlier on, he drew extensively from the writing system, as is evident in the paintings: The Three Wise Men (triptych, acrylic on panel, 1996), Heaven’s Gate (acrylic on prayer board, 2000), and Idaresit (acrylic on canvas, 2004). At that point, Ekpuk was more interested in aesthetic memory, the idea that one can subject a common cultural wellspring to rigorous formal analysis in order to create new aesthetic possibilities. Except one has some familiarity with the nsibidi form, the three works are open to multiple interpretations. They present what the art historian Chike Aniakor calls the “veiling of message [as being] the fortress of the artistic impulse.”[2]  The works may have specific messages, but they are not directly accessible and require the artist’s intervention in order to unlock them.

Three Wise Men, Courtesy of the Artist

Three Wise Men, Courtesy of the Artist

 

Ekpuk has however become adept at inventing his own scripts, which may appear weighty in appearance, but are unburdened with fixed meaning. Unlike the nsibidi ideograms, Ekpuk’s inventions bear no deep secrets. Instead, they are outlets through which he articulates his perception of the world around him. In the artist’s oeuvre, his scripts recur in the form of dots, scrawls, contrived signs that are sometimes borrowed from pop culture, and few nsibidi signs which he employs more for their aesthetic value than for their significance. In 2006, Ekpuk had shifted his interest to drawing as his main channel of expression at the expense of painting in order to explore more vigorously the aesthetics of graphic signs as abstract forms. Altogether his scripts provide insights into a world of the artist’s making, a world that straddles the experienced and the imagined.

Recent works such as Bicycle Groove (2012) and Santa Fe Sunset (from the Santa Fe Suite Series, 2013) directly address the artist’s time in Amsterdam, and Santa Fe, respectively. In the two works, Ekpuk adopts visual referents that lend themselves to fairly easy reading. Bicycle Groove explores a socio-cultural phenomenon of a place that the artist has experienced. In the piece in graphite and acrylic on Moulin de Larroque paper, a diagrammatic wheel stands as an avatar of Amsterdam, a city famed for its cycling culture. Ekpuk astutely assembles rudimentary forms and lines on the picture surface. He is effective in conveying his experience of Amsterdam without overloading the work. The work is also a balancing act in the use of negative and positive spaces and in the reduction of forms to their barest essentials, very much present in the artist’s other works.

Ekpuk’s approach, which also highlights the innate and poetic quality of lines, allows him to maintain an ambivalence of engaging memory directly and symbolically. Santa Fe Sunset, produced in a recent artist residency in New Mexico, reflects this ambivalence. The element that immediately captures the viewer’s attention in the work is the splotch of orange acrylic, painted atop graphic inscriptions, in the center of the picture surface. This layer of paint is representational. As the work’s title suggests, it is the setting sun. The translucent quality of the orange sun allows the viewer to see through to the ink scripts, which also surround the sun. The symbolic scripts can thus be interpreted as visual translations of Ekpuk’s memory of Santa Fe.

The artist makes use of centralizing symbols in several works, including Memories at Hand (2013), The Traveler (2012) and Take 5 (2013), to subtly direct viewers’ interpretations of his art. He is also adroit in the use of contrast of colors and black graphite or ink in Composition No. 11 (2012), The Thinker (2012), and Indigo Girl(2013). This interplay imbues the works with balance, rhythm, and a sensuous quality that is visually attractive yet uncanny. Composition No. 11 is also a very successful attempt by the artist in focusing solely on the abstract qualities of graphic forms. Although works such as Memories at Hand (2013) and The Traveler (2012) are highly symbolic, the key elements in the two works — schematized hand and feet, respectively — bear decipherable messages. State of Being (2012) and Meditations of Memory (2012) address those moments of introspection by the artist as he searched for visual eloquence. Both works also explore Ekpuk’s experience of straddling several cultures.

Take 5, Courtesy of the Artist

Take 5, Courtesy of the Artist

 

In all, the works are several bodies of interconnected ideas that fit perfectly into an overarching artistic vision from nearly two decades. They represent Ekpuk’s attempt to translate his experiences and the larger human experience, bearing the burden of contemplation, history, and contemporaneity.

 

Victor Ekpuk: Reminiscences & Current Musings, a solo exhibition at Morton Fine Art (MFA), in Washington DC,  features selected works by the artist Victor Ekpuk, produced from 1996-2013.  13 September – 8 October 2013. Artist Talk: 28 September, 2013. 

 

Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi (Nigeria, lives in USA) is an artist, curator, and art historian. He is a Smithsonian Institution Fellow and was recently appointed as the curator of African Art at the Hood Museum Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, USA. Nzewi was also recently appointed as one of the curators of the Dak’Art 2014.

 

References

[1] Pierre Nora (ed.), Les Lieux de Mémoire (Paris: Gallimard, 1984).

[2] Chika Aniakor, “AKA: The Conquests of An Artistic Vision,” AKA 89 [4thannual exhibition catalogue] (Enugu: AKA, 1989), 8.

 

Link to the article in full:  http://www.contemporaryand.com/blog/magazines/memory-is-central-to-victor-ekpuks-artistic-practice-it-encompasses-the-received-appropriated-lived-and-imagined/

Artwork by Victor Ekpuk- Live painting in Amsterdam

15 May

Artwork by Victor Ekpuk, made during the presentation of ZAM Africa Magazine in 2009.