Tag Archives: Hood Museum

OSI AUDU in ArtDaily

19 Jan
Exhibition of recent drawings by Osi Audu opens at Skoto Gallery

Self-Portrait No 1, 2016, graphite and pastel on paper mounted on canvas, 56 x 72 ins. Courtesy Skoto Gallery.

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NEW YORK, NY.- Skoto Gallery presents New Portraits: Self in the Global Age, an exhibition of recent drawings by Osi Audu. Born in Nigeria, the artist was educated in that country and the United States. For over two decades now, he has maintained a strong professional presence in Korea, Japan, Great Britain, United States, Italy, Germany, Austria and Africa through highly acclaimed exhibitions of his paintings. His work is in several private and public collections including The British Museum; The Horniman Museum, London; Schmidt Bank, Bayreuth, Germany; The Iwalewa House, Germany, The Wellcome Trust Collection, London, The National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC and Newark Museum, Newark, New Jersey. His work was included in the recently concluded 2015 Venice Biennale, in the collateral event exhibition – Frontiers Re-imagined at the Palazzo Grimani Museum in Venice.

This is his third solo exhibition at the gallery. The reception is on Thursday, January 14th, 6-8pm. The artist will be present.

Of Selfies and Shadow play: Osi Audu’s Self-Portrait
Osi Audu has the astute ability to break down complex ideas into simplified, visually appealing compositions. He has developed a unique vocabulary that emphasizes geometry, volume, tactility, and quality of the tromp l’oeil, in a career that spans nearly thirty years. Though on flat surface, his work appears three-dimensional. Solid black forms dominate the center of the picture plane. Some cast reverent shadows that taper to the edges of the paper or canvas. With voluminous architectural shapes composed of different parts but bound seamlessly by slick white lines in the new Self-Portrait series, Audu stretches the boundaries of abstraction, teasing the imagination. There is clarity of form that immediately casts a spell on the viewer. Yet Audu’s work does not give in to pedestrian interpretation. One must first acquaint oneself with the philosophy that informs his creative disposition in order to have a more meaningful encounter with the body of work. Though minimalist abstraction is a principal motivation, it is not abstraction for mere sake nor is the dualism (solids and shadows, black and grey) that is apparent in his oeuvre a mere visual device or creative flair. Both are conceptual armatures that help to advance an artistic position and the culturally-derived epistemology that grounds his work.

Audu’s aesthetics draws specifically upon the Yoruba ontology of dual consciousness centered on the human head. The head (ori) is a bifurcated ensemble that best represents the intertwining of spirit and matter, mind and body. Orí inú (invisible or inner head) is the locus of consciousness, an a priori that gives substance to being. Orí òde (outer or tangible head), the physical manifestation of consciousness, is a vehicle of perception, identity, and interaction with reality. It is this dialogic imagining of beingness, of the human self, that Audu translates on white paper and canvas, using black pastel, graphite, primary colors, wool, among other media. His use of black monochrome holds pertinent symbolic value. It ramifies the cultural vicissitudes of blackness as well as outlines Audu’s position of engagement in an art world that is burdened by a historical legacy of excluding or de-legitimizing black artists who claim the arcane language of abstraction.

In previous solo exhibitions at Skoto Gallery such as Osi Audu: Ile Ori/Ori Ile (House of the Head/Head of the House) in 2006, the head is addressed as a metaphor of collective consciousness. Audu explores the head as a cognitive altar that dictates the cycle of life and human responses to existential conditions. Conversely, the current exhibition titled New Portraits: Self in the Global Age focuses on the autonomous self, shifting emphasis from collective consciousness to the singular being as unit of sensation. It comprises of eighteen works from the ongoing Self-Portrait series. They push Audu’s fastidious formalism, complex forms, and geometric abstraction further albeit in a different direction. Conceptually, one might speak of them as selfies, those totems that feed the narcissist cult of the individual, very symptomatic of our contemporary world.

Yet we are admonished not to think of the works as portraits in a physiognomic sense. Instead, they are reflections on the ways in which the individual negotiates his/her being in the world. Following Maurice Merleau-Ponty, they are the artist’s attempts to distill perception, by relating and piecing together the spectacles of his own world in relation to the world at large. It is the interior-self that forms the basis of rootedness; the source of identity and personhood. As such, Audu casts his gaze inward, to his Orí inú, the seat of consciousness where memories also reside; reconciling it with his Orí òde, the vessel that bears out his past and present experiences, of growing up and studying in Nigeria, living in the United Kingdom, and current domicile in New York. Altogether, the works capture Audu’s attempt to find himself in a teleological world that is mediated by relations. Ultimately, what lies at the core of this new body of work is a phenomenological awareness of being part of a globalized reality, marked by changing conditions, cultural exchanges on a planetary scale, and a network of disjunctive and constitutive references.

Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi
Artist, Art Historian, and Curator of African Art
Hood Museum of Art
Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire

VICTOR EKPUK interviewed in Hood Museum of Art “Quarterly” Dartmouth College

23 Jun

Victor Ekpuk-Hood Museum Quarterly

 

A Conversation with Victor Ekpuk

Victor Ekpuk’s ephemeral wall drawings demonstrate the artist’s site-specific adaptation of his drawing approach to architectural working surfaces. Created without preliminary sketches or pre-formed ideas, the murals emerge out of the physical spaces they ultimately occupy, functioning much like the symbolic forms that mark sacred spaces and shrine walls in traditional societies in Africa. In this interview conducted in advance of his visit to Dartmouth, Ekpuk discusses his wall drawings with Curator of African Art Ugochukwu-Smooth Nzewi.

Ugochukwu-Smooth Nzewi (SN): We are very happy to have your exhibition Auto-Graphics on view at the Hood. We are even more excited that you are creating a wall drawing—the largest of your wall drawings to date— in Lathrop Gallery in conjunction with this exhibition. It is my understanding that it was the context of an earlier exhibition in Amsterdam that sparked what has become a critical aspect of your practice, the ephemeral wall drawings. Can you talk about this experience?

Victor Ekpuk (VE): During a 2008 artist-in-residency program at Thami Mnyele Foundation in the Netherlands, I was invited to participate in an exhibition to mark the launching of ZAM magazine. The exhibition included works of celebrated South African artist Marlene Dumas as well as other artists and poets from Africa. I proposed to do a mural drawing based on the memory of my life in the Netherlands. Amsterdam Central was an encapsulation of my experience as a transient visitor there. I was intrigued by the idea that the drawing that I would spend several hours making on a gallery wall would eventually be erased to make space for another artwork. I saw this as a metaphor for life itself. The knowledge that I exist at one moment in time only to exit for something else to fill the space that I once occupied was a very humbling realization. On one level, Amsterdam Central was just an expression of the essence of the Netherlands from my perspective as a visitor. On another, I was probing an inner dialogue with existential reality.

SN: Memory is central to your practice and even more fundamental to your wall drawings, which is why you call them “drawing memories.” You have framed memory as received, imagined, transposed, and appropriated. Why does memory hold such fascination for you?

VE: I believe that our self-consciousness is borne from memory. Through self consciousness we form our identities. I observe identity as an ephemeral condition that is always in flux. As you rightly noted, memories are constantly being imagined, transposed, and appropriated. So in “drawing memories,” I am trying to capture these various selves in my stream of consciousness. I am very intrigued by the realization that essentially we are all a sum of different parts that are shaped by circumstances. There is always recognition of some personal memory in the collective. Because it is, after all, a human story. Some these memories are what have shaped my life or the lives of people I have come in contact with.

SN: You once told me that your creative process involves moments of quietude in which you dig deep into your memory bank for visual clarity and intellectual materials to work with. How does the creative process involved in the making of the wall drawings differ from your regular studio process?

VE: The process for drawing on the wall differs, in some ways, from studio practice because I prefer it to be spontaneous. I usually prefer not to think about what I am going to draw until I am in the space, at which time I let the space and what I feel at that moment determine what direction the composition will take.

SN: Your wall drawings do not exactly present cohesive narratives or offer formal points of entry for the viewer, although one must admit that there is a logic to the way you amass the script like symbols on the wall surface. Is that a reflection of your understanding of the way memory works?

VE: While drawing, my hand responds to a stream of consciousness, a flow of images from my mind. During this instant I let go and lose myself in the moment. Yes, in a way that’s how our conscious minds work: we exercise our abilities to sift through memories and focus on those that are relevant to immediate attention.

SN: You have also described your wall drawings as performance. Is this because you draw upon nsibidi, the autochthonous body of symbols used in visual and gestured communication by the Ekpe secret society in southeastern Nigeria and southwestern Cameroon?

VE: Yes, the performative and the ephemeral aesthetics of nsibidi remain strong influences on my artistic process and production. In the outward display of knowledge, members of the secret society that practice nsibidi usually engage in “mbre,” meaning play of nsibidi. It involves challenging one another to decipher coded graphic signs that are marked on the ground. In other instances, nsibidi signs are used as coded messages, marked either on the ground or on objects, and sometimes as arrangements of objects. It is worth noting that in all of these instances, the signs are always ephemeral. They are often wiped off once the play is over or the message has been received.

SN: Although nsibidi was a point of departure for you at the beginning of your practice, to what extent do you still rely on its repertoire of pictographic and ideographic scripts in your wall drawings?

VE: I’ve found myself using less of nsibidi in my work in general. Having imbibed the nsibidi aesthetic philosophy of focusing on the essence of form or thought to communicate ideas, application of this principle comes in very handy when I approach a composition or design idea. As a means to fully engage this aesthetic philosophy, I made the series of large drawings called Composition Series, which are on view as part of Auto-Graphics, where I explored nsibidi symbols not for their meaning but for their aesthetics and abstract forms.

SN: How many of these wall drawings have you made and how do they differ from each other?

VE: Starting from my first drawing in Amsterdam in 2008 to what I will create at the Hood Museum of Art, I will have made six wall drawings in all. Mickey on Broadway, my second mural, was created in a Washington, D.C., gallery in 2011. It considered my identity as both African and American. It was partly mixed media, and included five Mickey Mouse–shaped plastic bowls placed above African-inspired forms. Meditations on Memories, also created in a gallery in 2011, was more abstract and contemplative. It was the first time I worked strictly with white chalk on a black wall. This was also the first time I was actively involved in the erasure of my wall drawing. In other works—such as Drawing Memories at Appalachian State University in 2013, and an untitled drawing at Krannert Art Museum and Ode to Joy at Arkansas Art Center, both in 2014—I was more interested in capturing the intrinsic aesthetics of objects and forms. Ode to Joy, a dialogue with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125, was my first attempt at drawing music. With headphones on my ears, I attempted to translate the imagery formed from the elation I felt. I was like the conductor of an orchestra, enthralled in raptures of violins, kettledrums, cellos, trumpets, cymbals, and the roaring voices in harmonious chants as the crescendos built and ecstasies exploded in my heart.

The exhibition Auto-Graphics: Works by Victor Ekpuk, on view through August 2, was organized by Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and curated by Allyson Purpura. It was partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency. The exhibition’s presentation at the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, was generously supported by the Leon C. 1927, Charles L. 1955, and Andrew J. 1984 Greenebaum Fund and the Cissy Patterson Fund

 

Please contact Morton Fine Art for a pdf version of this interview or click the following link: http://hoodmuseum.dartmouth.edu/docs/2015summerquarterlywebready.pdf

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

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

VICTOR EKPUK’s solo “Hip Sistas in Flux : The Visual – Lingual Braid” in Washington Post

16 May
May 15 at 1:13 PM
Victor Ekpuk

Writing and painting merge in the art of Victor Ekpuk, whose bold work employs symbols from Nsibidi, a West African ideographic system. This is a familiar aspect of the Nigeria-born Washingtonian’s style, but in Morton Fine Art’s “Hip Sistas in Flux: The Visual-Lingual Braid” the text represents both contemporary modes and cultural heritage. The glyphs decorate bodies as well as backgrounds, suggesting African-inspired fabrics but also jewelry and piercings, tattoos and scarification.
Ekpuk often uses a dense field of black-on-white symbols to frame a person or object that’s in color. Of these archetypal portraits, however, only “Asian Uboikpa (Hip Sista) Series #6” is rendered in black, and it’s garnished with red and blue dots at the center. The other paintings are even brighter, often outlining a woman’s head and torso in a lighter hue than the backdrop. Sista #11, for example, uses thickly applied yellow atop a green and blue matrix. The vivid colors suit the primal images; these female exemplars are nothing if not robust.

Victor Ekpuk — Hip Sistas in Flux: The Visual-Lingual Braid On view through May 21 at Morton Fine Art, 1781 Florida Ave. NW. 202-628-2787. http://www.mortonfineart.com.

Images of VICTOR EKPUK’s “Hip Sistas in Flux : The Visual-Lingual Braid”

14 May

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Photos courtesy of Martina Dodd for Morton Fine Art. Please contact the gallery for artwork details and availability.  “Hip Sistas in Flux : The Visual-Lingual Braid” catalogs available upon request.

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

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

Artwork in VICTOR EKPUK’s solo “Hip Sistas in Flux : The Visual-Lingual Braid” at Morton Fine Art

30 Apr

Sneak preview of artwork from Nigerian born artist VICTOR EKPUK’s solo exhibition “Hip Sistas in Flux : The Visual-Lingual Braid”, opening Friday May 1st at Morton Fine Art.

Where?

Morton Fine Art, 1781 Florida Ave NW (at 18th & U Sts), Washington, DC 20009

(202) 628-2787, mortonfineart@gmail.com, http://www.mortonfineart.com *Contact the gallery for available artworks*

When?

Friday, May 1st, 2015 from 6pm – 8pm

The artist will be in attendance.

All images copyright of the artist, Victor Ekpuk.

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VICTOR EKPUK solo “Hip Sistas in Flux : The Visual-Lingual Braid” at Morton Fine Art

16 Apr
Hip Sistas in Flux: The Visual-Lingual Braid
A solo exhibition of new artworks by VICTOR EKPUK
Friday, May 1st- May 21st, 2015

OPENING DAY RECEPTION 
Friday, May 1st, 6pm-8pm
The artist will be in attendance.

Asian Uboikpa (Hip Sista) Series #10, 2015, acrylic on canvas, 60″x48″
EXHIBITION LOCATION

Morton Fine Art (MFA)
1781 Florida Ave NW (at 18th & U Sts)
Washington, DC 20009

HOURS

Tuesday – Saturday 11am – 6pm
Sunday 12pm-5pm
Victor Ekpuk has a concurrent museum solo exhibition titled
Auto-Graphics : Works by Victor Ekpuk running from April 18th – August 2nd, 2015 at the Hood Museum of Art in Hanover, NH. 
 
Hood Museum of Art
Dartmouth College
Hanover, NH 03755
About VICTOR EKPUK

The central theme of Ekpuk’s work is the exploration of the relationships, challenges and responses to changes that characterize the human condition. Of particular interest to his artwork is Nsibidi, an indigenous African system of writing that employs graphic signs, and codes to convey concepts. Inspired by this ancient writings, forms in his works are reduced to basic essence resulting in new symbols or codes in script-like drawings that are used to express contemporary experiences. When combined with Nsibidi signs, these “scripts” also provide the background narrative to his compositions. Most often these narratives are better perceived when they are felt rather than read literally.

 

Victor Ekpuk’s artwork can be found in the permanent collections of the following noteworthy institutions:

Smithsonian Institution Nation Museum of African Art, Washington DC

The Hood Museum, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH

Newark Museum, New Jersey

The World Bank, Washington DC

University of Maryland University College Art Collection

The US Department of State

 

 
About Hip Sistas in Flux: The Visual-Lingual Braid

Asian Uboikpa (Hip Sista) series is an engagement of the aesthetics of women of African descent. This series of paintings and drawings started as exploration of the art of hairstyles and body markings: a form of self-expression among young women of southeastern Nigeria. It has expanded to acknowledge similar attitude towards body image and self-expression among young black women in the Diaspora. Asian Uboikpa in Ibibio language references proud young women or virgins, while Hip Sista is an African American idiom used to describe a highly fashionable woman.

Perhaps this attitude of proudly inviting a public gaze by being hip through changing one’s body image with elaborate hairstyles and body adornments is no coincidence. Through genetic memory, these African cultural practices continue to find expression among women of the African Diaspora.

The perpetual flux of the old and the contemporary, of Africa and the Diaspora and the persistence of cultural memory are the main considerations in these works.

-Victor Ekpuk
About Morton Fine Art
Founded as an innovative solution to the changing contemporary art market, 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, MFA’s mission is to provide accessibility to museum-quality contemporary art through a combination of innovative exhibitions and a new generation of art services.

“Auto-Graphics : Works by VICTOR EKPUK” at Hood Museum, Dartmouth

31 Mar

The Dartmouth logo

Spring will bring variety of arts events to the College

From the visually-engaging and thought-provoking exhibitions at the Hood Museum of Art to the enchanting melodies performed by student ensembles and unique performances that will be shown at the Hopkins Center for the Arts, the 2015 spring arts season is primed to be another term full of celebration for music, film, dance and the visual arts.

Aside from the ongoing events for the current exhibitions such as “About Face: Self-Portraiture in Contemporary Art,” which is on display through August 30, the Hood Museum of Art will open three new exhibitions in April.

“Water Ways: Tension and Flow,” which will open on April 4, will feature more than 24 landscape and portraiture photographs depicting the delicate balance between water’s effect on human life and vice versa. Although most of the works in the exhibition are drawn from the Hood’s permanent collection, the audience will be able to see these works in a new light as they all provide commentary about different aspects of water’s significance for sustaining life. While many of the photographs are from the 20th and 21st centuries, “Water Ways” will also include depictions by Roman and Egyptian artists in conjunction with the Nile Project— a group of musicians, educators and activists who are set to perform a blend of African and Arab music on April 17 in Spaulding Auditorium as a part of the group’s residency from April 13-18. The exhibition will also include the screening of the documentary “Watermark” (2013) on May 20.

Two exhibitions, “Auto-Graphics: Works by Victor Ekpuk” and “Ukara: Ritual Cloth of the Ekpe Secret Society,” will open at the Hood on April 18. “Auto-Graphics” will combine several works by Nigerian artist Victor Ekpuk, including his graphic and pastel print Composition No. 13 (Sante Fe Suite) (2013), which features Ekpuk’s characteristic use of nsibidi, a Nigerian writing form of the Ekpe people. On April 24, Ekpuk himself will give a lecture titled, “Excavating Memories” to share how his cultural and social experiences influences his art.

Hood Museum head of publishing and communications Nils Nadeau said that Ekpuk will create a large-scale drawing in the second-floor galleries, in tandem with the exhibition that is devoted to his recent work, beginning on April 20.

“Anyone can stop in and witness his progress live as he creates a new wall drawing,” Nadeau said.

The exhibition focused on ukara, a traditional cloth that represents the prestige of the Ekpe society, will also explore African culture through the ukaras’ designs and use. Each ukara includes a specific pattern and dye, as well as nsibidi symbols to convey a deeper meaning for the owner. Many of the ukaras featured in the exhibition were given by Eli Bentor, an art history professor at Appalachian State University, who will be leading a panel discussion about the collection on May 15.

To read the article in full, please visit: http://thedartmouth.com/2015/03/29/spring-will-bring-variety-of-arts-events-to-the-college/

Contact Morton Fine Art for available artwork by VICTOR EKPUK.

(202) 628-2787

mortonfineart@gmail.com

http://www.mortonfineart.com

Victor Ekpuk, Composition 7, 50"x50", pastel and graphite on paper

Victor Ekpuk, Composition 7, 50″x50″, pastel and graphite on paper