Thursday, 1 December 2011

Skoto Gallery - Drawings from Contemporary African Artists

SKOTO GALLERY 529 West 20th Street, 5FL.
New York, NY 10011 212-352 8058

Uche Okeke, Beggar,1963, charcoal on paper,15.5x11.5 inches.
Jose Bedia, Dudley Charles, Victor Ekpuk, Vladimir Cybil Charlier
Bernard Guillot, Richard Hunt, Osaretin Ighile, Michael Marshall
Uche Okeke, Ibrahim El Salahi, Sumayyah Samaha, Juliana Zevallos
December 8th, 2011 – January 21st, 2012
Skoto Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of drawings by an international group of established and emerging artists. The opening reception is Thursday, December 8th, 6-8pm.
This show will include more than three dozen works on paper made in a wide variety of media, including ink, graphite, watercolor, and collage that offer unique insights into the thought and work processes of the exhibiting artists. These are phenomenal works in their own right, and they also provide a link between their other works in painting, sculpture and architecture. Despite their varied experiences, personal cultural backgrounds and styles their approach to drawing is through a contemporary experience, their metaphysics is distinctly new and refreshing, celebrating the moment of apprehension and the fugitive moment of response with a few traces of ink or a few strokes of the pencil.
Among the works included in the exhibition is a selection of six exceptionally strong drawings from the early 1960’s by the Nigerian artist Uche Okeke (b. 1933), whose exhibition “Another Modernity: Works on Paper by Uche Okeke”, Newark Museum in February-July, 2006 was highly acclaimed. This will be the first US exhibition of these drawings. Renowned for his immense contribution to the development of modern Nigerian art and pioneering visual experimentations with traditional Igbo Uli mural and body design, Uche Okeke’s early drawings in graphite, charcoal or ink are pure meditations upon the nature of line itself. A master of lyrical and sensitive lines, he uses resplendent curves and fluid lines to convey the true harmonies of his artistic vision.
Also included is a selection of ink drawings by the Cuban-born artist Jose Bedia (b. 1959) that reactivate imagery drawn from the most diverse ancient, geographical, historical and cultural horizons, he utilizes a particular rigor and economy of line in his work that encourages a clarity of intent and simplicity of execution. Bedia says of his work - It is an attempt at communication and community between the material and spiritual universe of “modern” man and that of “primitive” man.
There is a lyrical beauty in the recent large-scale drawings of Dudley Charles (Guyana, South America) that belies its surprising seamlessness between the spiritual and physical worlds. He draws from both figuration and abstraction, combined with a wide spectrum of cultural references to expand the medium’s definition in relation to gesture and form. There is a sense of value for spontaneity and improvisation that engages the viewer directly and viscerally as ideas are distilled into swirling or meandering lines in his work.
The Lebanese-born artist Sumayyah Samaha’s series of charcoal drawings titled “Portrait of Iraq”, 2004-2006 explores the vulnerability of humanity caught in a state of ruin as a result of the US invasion of Iraq. The delicate nature of her drawings allow the viewer to be initially drawn into them, and upon closer examination one is almost taken aback by the realization that such fragility also convey atrocities of war, destruction and death. Her work also demonstrates mastery of the use of charcoal with such subtlety that reveals the incredible possibilities of the medium as soft fields of gray become backgrounds for her abstract and organic forms, creating an aura of magic and playfulness. Samaha’s work goes beyond the political and emotional turmoil of our confused world, emoting, instead, an almost surreal, exotic world that creates a tantalizing sense of belonging.

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