Tag Archives: nsibidi

VICTOR EKPUK’s “Hip Sistas in Flux : The Visual-Lingual Braid” reviewed by ArtCentron

27 May

ART

May 25, 2015 

Hairstyles, Tattoos and Body Markings Signifier Women’s Pride

posted by ARTCENTRON

Hairstyles, Tattoos and Body Markings Signifier Women’s Pride

Victor Ekpuk, Asian Uboikpa (Hip Sista) Series #.11, 2015 . acrylic on canvas 60′ x 48′. Image courtesy of Morton Fine Art

REVIEW

Victor Ekpuk’s new drawings and paintings investigate hairstyles and body markings as forms of self-expression and pride among women

BY KAZAD

Victor Ekpuk, Asian Uboikpa (Hip Sista) #10, 2014, one of the paintings investigating the importance of hairstyles and body markings of women in Diaspora

WASHINGTON DC.- Several years ago, Victor Ekpuk began exploring the art of hairstyles and body markings among young women of southeastern Nigeria. His objective was not just aesthetics but also the need to reveal the importance of hairstyles and body markings as forms of self-expression and pride among African women. The result of that exploration is a collection of paintings Ekpuk titled Mbobo or Maiden Series.

The paintings and drawings that emerged from Ekpuk’s investigation of the art of hairstyles and body markings among young women of southeastern Nigeria are very instructive. They illuminate how effective hairstyles and body markings are efficient means of accentuating pride and self-actualization among African women. The Mbobo(maiden) Series go from series 1 to 10. The oil on canvas paintings emphasis the importance of hair to black/African women and why it is often described as the crown of her glory.

While many of the paintings and drawings from the Mbobo (maiden) Series address the importance of women’s hairstyles among African women, they also bring to focus the creativity of the hairstylists who create the amazing hair designs. Many of the hairstylists and designers learned their crafts through apprenticeship, from relatives, and friends. Although many of the hairstyles continue to conform to traditions, others have evolved to accommodate modern ideas.

Historically, hairstyles and body markings have been integral to African societies. Hairstyles, body markings, and tattoos are not just a source of pride and self-expression but also signifier of status and aesthetics. In some Nigerian societies, hairstyles and body markings indicate the position and status of women. Among the Yoruba, Igbo, and Hausa, for instance, hairstyles, body markings, and tattoos are effective means of establishing the authorities of woman.

Since that first exploration about 2008, Ekpuk has continued to explore the theme of hairstyle designs in his works, expanding his oeuvres to include body markings, tattoos and body scarifications. Presently at the Morton Fine Art in Washington DC is an exhibition that illustrates Ekpuk’s expansion of the art of hairstyle design from the Nigerian context to the Diaspora.

Titled Asian Uboikpa (Hip Sistas) in Flux: The Visual-Lingual Braid, the exhibition uses the exploration of hairstyles and body markings in southeastern Nigeria as the pedestal for investigating the culture of hairstyles and body markings in the Diaspora. Asian Uboikpa, an Ibibio expression, references proud young women and virgins, while Hip Sista is an African American term used to describe highly fashionable women.

In his recent paintings examining hairstyles and body markings, Ekpuk continues to expand his use of Nsibidi, the West African ideographic, to create a visual language that has situated him at the center of contemporary African art discourse in the West. Unlike in the past when his use of and interpretation of Nsibidi was limited to Nigeria and Africa, in his recent paintings, the West African ideographic system bridges the contemporary mode and cultural heritage.

The motifs inherent in Ekpuk’s recent paintings emulate designs of African fabrics design, jewelry, piecing, tattoos and scarification in such a way that dispenses with a singular cultural identity. There is a hybridization of forms and ideas from multiple sources and cultures. For a Nigerian artist who has travelled the globe presenting his works in museums and galleries, the confluence of ideas is not unusual.

The focus of many of the paintings and drawings on exhibition in Asian Uboikpa (Hip Sistas) in Flux: The Visual-Lingual Braid is content over form. There is a deliberate attempt to elevate substance over form in many of the paintings that are characterized by backgrounds with heavy motifs.

Please contact Morton Fine Art for available artworks by VICTOR EKPUK. 

Morton Fine Art, 1781 Florida Ave NW, Washington, DC 20009, (202) 628-2787, http://www.mortonfineart.com , mortonfineart@gmail.com

To read this article in full please visit the following link: http://artcentron.com/2015/05/25/hairstyles-signifier-pride/#prettyPhoto

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

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 : Work by VICTOR EKPUK” opens at the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth

14 Apr

Please contact Morton Fine Art for available artworks by VICTOR EKPUK.

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

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

 

AUTO-GRAPHICS

Victor Ekpuk, Composition No. 13 (Sante Fe Suite), 2013, graphic and pastel on paper. Courtesy of the artist. © Victor Ekpuk Market Day, 2007, China marker on archival pigment print. Collection of the artist. Sanctuary, from the series Composition, 2008, graphite and pastel on paper. Collection of the artist. Santa Fe, 2013, graphite and pastel on paper. Collection of Fidelity Investments, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Works by Victor Ekpuk

April 18–August 2, 2015

Nigerian-born artist Victor Ekpuk is best known for his improvisational use of nsibidi, a form of writing with symbols associated with the powerful Ekpe men’s association of southeastern Nigeria. Ekpuk’s aesthetic engagement with nsibidi emerged during his fine art studies at Obafemi Awolowo University in Ife, Nigeria, where students were encouraged to explore the logics of pattern and design in indigenous African art forms. His fascination with nsibidi during these years—its economy of line and encoded meanings—led to his broader explorations of drawing as writing, and to the invention of his own fluid letterforms. As a mature artist, Ekpuk has so internalized the rhythm and contours of his “script” that it flows from his hand like the outpouring of a personal archive.

This exhibition 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.

Hood Museum of Art
Dartmouth College
Hanover, NH 03755
603.646.2808
hood.museum@dartmouth.edu

RELATED EVENTS

23 April, Thursday, 12:30 p.m.
MEMBER EXCLUSIVE
Tour and Lunch with Artist Victor Ekpuk
Join artist Victor Ekpuk and Curator of African Art Smooth Nzewi for an intimate look at the artist’s installation in Lathrop Gallery, followed by lunch and discussion in the conference room. Registration is required. $25.00 per person. Open to current members. To register, call (603) 646-0414 or email Julie.Ann.I.Otis@dartmouth.edu. Space is limited.

24 April, Friday, 4:30 p.m.
ARTIST LECTURE
“Excavating Memories”
Victor Ekpuk, artist
Ekpuk will discuss how he mines historical, cultural, and social memories to shape his aesthetics.

25 April, Saturday, 11:00 a.m.
Second-floor galleries
SPECIAL TOUR
Auto-Graphics: Works by Victor Ekpuk
Allyson Purpura, Curator of African Arts at the Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and curator of Auto-Graphics, will lead a tour exploring the works on view and ideas behind the exhibition.

25 April, Saturday, 1:00–2:30 p.m.
FAMILY WORKSHOP
Experimenting with Line
Explore the expressive power of Victor Ekpuk’s line in his collages, digital prints, and supersized drawings. In the studio, make large drawings filled with your own symbols and line designs. For children ages 7–12 and their adult companions. Enrollment is free, but limited. Please register through the museum’s online calendar by April 23.

29 April, Wednesday, 6:00–8:00 p.m.
ADULT WORKSHOP
The Hand-Drawn Line: Works by Victor Ekpuk
Join this discussion-based workshop to explore how Ekpuk uses rhythm, pattern, scale, composition, and the hand-drawn line to create works that are at once bold and restrained. In the studio, experiment with materials to create your own work inspired by the exhibition. No previous art experience necessary. Participation is limited. Please register through the museum’s online calendar by April 27.

16 May, Saturday, 2:00 p.m.
INTRODUCTORY TOUR
Auto-Graphics: Works by Victor Ekpuk

26 May, Tuesday, 12:30 p.m.
LUNCHTIME GALLERY TALK
“Marks and Mark-Making in Afro-diasporic Art”
Michael Chaney, Associate Professor, Vice Chair, English Department, Dartmouth College
This informal presentation links both the contemporary artwork of Victor Ekpuk and traditional ukara cloths to an unlikely analog in the hybrid production of nineteenth-century slave artisan Dave the Potter. As with the strange writing inscribed on the sides of Dave the Potter’s jars, the coded writing system known as nsibidi opens up our understanding of diasporic art and the principles of communication embodied in it.

13 June, Saturday, 2:00 p.m.
SPECIAL TOUR
Auto-Graphics: Works by Victor Ekpuk
Smooth Nzewi, Curator of African Art

16 June, Tuesday, 12:30 p.m.
LUNCHTIME GALLERY TALK
“Memory and Victor Ekpuk’s Wall Drawings”
Smooth Nzewi, Curator of African Art

“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

VICTOR EKPUK in “Artists of Nigeria” by Onyema Offoedu-Okeke

24 Jul

VICTOR EKPUK prominently featured in “Artists of Nigeria”, an anthology on Nigerian Art written by ONYEMA OFFOEDU-OKEKE. Please contact Morton Fine Art LLC for available works by this amazing internationally renowned artist!

mortonfineart@gmail.com

(202) 628-2787

http://www.mortonfineart.com

Artists of Nigeria Cover web

Ekpuk Artists of Nigeria p1 web

Ekpuk Artists of Nigeria p2 web

Ekpuk Artists of Nigeria p3 web

Ekpuk Artists of Nigeria p4 web

Ekpuk Artists of Nigeria p5 web

Ekpuk Artists of Nigeria p6 web

Ekpuk Artists of Nigeria p7 web

Ekpuk Artists of Nigeria p8 web

VICTOR EKPUK’s Drawings on View at Arkansas Art Center July 18 – October 5, 2014

17 Jul

 

 

 

NDI12-logo

CURATOR’S STATEMENT

While he was growing up in Nigeria, Victor Ekpuk would see nsibidi symbols inscribed on things and places. He didn’t know the specific meanings of each mark – only that he must avoid what was marked in this way. These were the signs of an adult male secret society of which the boy was not a member. Therefore, these marks were part of his life, and yet were “other” to him. It was only when he began to study art at Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria that he investigated the more particular meanings and history of the strange linear characters. He discovered that nsibidi symbols have a long history of being painted, inscribed, engraved, sculpted and performed in southeastern Nigeria. Ekpuk has founded his personal artistic vocabulary in his own versions of nsibidi, adapting the meanings and forms to his own expression.Ekpuk’s linear writing-drawing is by no means an exact transcription of nsibidi, nor are all of the parts of this person visual language derived from the artist’s African background. He has travelled to many parts of the world and found symbols all around him. He does not assign a specific significance to every mark. The shapes that come together in the African-American artist’s drawings, paintings and sculpture function as abstractly as any patterning in western-based modern art. Yet, the roots of his work in writing and symbolism charge every mark, shape, and area of color with meaning.Ekpuk’s work bridges divides between writing and drawing, painting and drawing, the modern and the ancient. He creates art in many media, including drawings on paper, paintings and painted ceramics. He also creates wall-sized temporary drawings in installations around the world. Ekpuk’s recent ephemeral installations include his chalk drawing for the exhibition Auto-Graphics: Recent Drawings by Victor Ekpuk at the Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an installation for the 11th Biennale of African Contemporary art, Dak’Art, in Dakar, Senegal.

Ekpuk’s entries in the 12th NDI include two framed permanent drawings. The drawing Dis Amsterdam Life is a reflection upon his experiences in 2007 as an artist in residence at the Thami Mnyele Foundation in Amsterdam, in the Netherlands. Composition #2 combines the bold light and dark pattern symbolic of a leopard’s spots with the intricate figures of Ekpuk’s own abstract drawing vocabulary.

Ekpuk will also make a wall-sized ephemeral drawing which will appear between August 20th and 22nd. This drawing in paint markers on the wall will be inspired by Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” from his Ninth Symphony. This is the first time that Ekpuk will draw from music. Like most wall drawings in museums, Ekpuk’s Ode to Joy will be destroyed at the end of the exhibition. The ephemeral nature of the work adds to the intensity of experience while it is on the wall. The artist’s process of drawing and the resulting work will be filmed and thus images of it will be preserved when the music has faded and the drawing is gone.

Surely, most of the marks that humans have made on walls since before recorded history have been expunged as Ekpuk’s drawing on the wall of the Arkansas Arts Center will be. Others have stood through the millennia on the walls of caves and rock shelters around the world. Ekpuk’s drawings, whether on paper or on walls, make their way around the world through photography and the internet. In this way, they are shared with audiences scattered in both space and time.

Ann Prentice Wagner
Curator of Drawings, Arkansas Art Center

FEATURED WORKS BY THE ARTIST

  • dis Amsterdam Life
    circa 2008
    pastel and graphite on paper
    50 x 50 inches
    Courtesy of the Artist
  • Composition #2
    circa 2009
    pastel and graphite on paper
    50 x 50 inches
    Courtesy of the Artist
  • State of Beings (Totem)
    installation at Dak’Art 2014
    2013
    acrylic vinyl and metal on wood panel and vinyl mat
    installation, 220 x 510 x 452 x 4 cm