AFRICAN ABSTRACTION II
AFRICAN ABSTRACTION II
March 16 - April 29, 2023
Montague Contemporary is thrilled to announce the second iteration of our African Abstraction exhibition. This year’s iteration "African Abstraction II" is thematically oriented to exploring the varied use of abstraction across the continent to capture a sense of place and identity - leveraging local language, geographic terrain, and geo-political inspiration to weave a narrative unique to each country and each artist.
Works on view range from a rare Victor Ekpuk sculpture “Head 3,” laden with the duality of contemporary lived experiences and cultural traditions using his signature interpretation of Nsibidi–an ancient Nigerian/Cameroonian ideographic communication system–to the subconscious mindscapes of South African Mongezi Ncaphayi, inspired heavily by his improvisational jazz saxophonist background and musical composition to capture metaphysical motion on paper.
Featured artists include: Victor Ekpuk (Nigeria), Leo Mativo (Kenya), Thameur Mejri (Tunisia), Miska Mohmmed (Sudan), Mongezi Ncaphayi (South Africa), Anthony Nsofor (Nigeria), and Marc Standing (Zimbabwe).
African Abstraction opens on March 16th and will be open through April 29th, 2023. The group exhibition is open to the public every week from Thursday through Saturday from 11AM to 6PM at 526 West 26th Street, 4th Floor. For press and other inquiries contact Montague Hermann at email@example.com, +1 917 495 3865.
Victor EkpukHead 3Signed and DatedPaint on welded iron rods and plates56 1/2 x 25 x 10 in.
144 x 64 x 26 cm.Copyright The Artist
Miska MohmmedMovement, 2022Signed and DatedMixed Media ( Acrylic, inks, markers, soft pastel, gouache)21 x 44 in.
53.3 x 111.8 cm.
Miska MohmmedEdge of Towns, 2022Signed and DatedMixed Media ( Acrylic, inks, markers, soft pastel, gouache)21 x 44 in.
53.3 x 111.8 cm.
Leo MativoThe Leveller, 2023Signed and DatedOil on Canvas27 1/2 x 23 1/2 in.
70 x 60 cm.
Leo MativoStill Waters, 2023Signed and DatedOil on Canvas27 1/2 x 23 1/2 in.
70 x 60 cm.
Thameur MejriHANDS AND BUTTERFLIES, 2022Mixed Media on Canvas152 x 122 cmCourtesy of Montague ContemporaryCopyright The Artist
Thameur MejriEMPIRE STATE, 2022Mixed Media on Canvas152 x 122 cmCourtesy of Montague ContemporaryCopyright The Artist
Mongezi NcaphayiLet's Say We Did II, 2023Signed & DatedIndian Ink and Watercolour on Fabriano Paper55 x 55 in.
139.7 x 139.7 cm.
Mongezi NcaphayiLet's Say We Did I, 2023Signed & DatedIndian Ink and Watercolour on Fabriano Paper55 x 55 in.
139.7 x 139.7 cm.Courtesy of Montague Contemporary
Anthony NsoforMagician Takes the Crowd at King Street, 2022Signed and DatedAcrylic on Canvas73 x 103 in.
185.4 x 261.6 cm.
Anthony NsoforAn Oracle of Falling Birds and a Lone Egg in the Nest, 2022, 2022Signed and DatedAcrylic on Board48 x 48 in.
121.9 x 121.9 cm.
Marc StandingThe Young World, 2022Signed and DatedAcrylic and gold leaf on canvas67 1/2 x 62 1/2 in.
172 x 159 cm.$ 28,000.00
Marc StandingThe Ancients, 2022SignedRaw canvas, ink, acrylic and glitter.37 1/2 x 34 1/2 in.
95.3 x 87.6 cm.Courtesy of Montague ContemporaryCopyright The Artist
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
VICTOR EKPUK, NIGERIA, B. 1964
Victor Ekpuk is an internationally-renowned Nigerian-American artist based in Washington, D.C. His paintings, drawings, and sculptures reimagine the ancient Nigerian communication system, Nsibidi, to explore a diverse spectrum of meaning addressing historical narratives, the contemporary African diaspora, and humanity’s connection to the sacred.
Ekpuk’s three-decade long career has earned his works inclusion in numerous prestigious collections, including the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture; Smithsonian National Museum of African Art; Boston Museum of Fine Art; The World Bank; Bank ABC (Arab Bank Corporation) in the Kingdom of Bahrain; Kiran Nadar Museum of Art in New Delhi; Elizabeth Miller Sculpture Center; Hood Museum; Krannert Art Museum; Newark Museum; United States Art in Embassies Art Collection.
In recent years, Ekpuk has added large-scale murals, installations, and public art projects to his portfolio. He has been commissioned by The Phillips Collection, Washington DC, North Carolina Museum of Art, Memphis Brooks Museum, Washington D.C. city government for Boone Elementary School, and Bank ABC (Arab Bank Corporation).
LEO MATIVO, KENYA
Leo Mativo was born in Nairobi County, Kenya. He lives and works in Syokimau, Machakos County, which is south of Nairobi.
Mativo is a practicing self-taught Kenyan figurative expressionist artist, who primarily works with oil and/or acrylic paints. He creates spectral compositions that mirror divergent psychological and emotional dispositions concealed underneath our skin and the faces we see. His figurative imagery uses an unrestrained and intuitive technical approach that he achieves by use of fingertips, different brushes, spray bottles, pieces of cloth and random objects.
His work explores the self-image and mental health conditions and their effects. Not only on how we experience lifetime, but also their effect on different areas of life. For example relationship with ourselves and others, and our contribution and participation in society.
Mativo is a graduate of creative Entrepreneurship by the Godown Arts Centre with a background in Architecture from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology and also completed the networked course CopyrightX that explores the current law of copyright and the ongoing debates concerning how that law should be reformed offered by Harvard Law School courtesy of the GoDown Arts Centre.
He has shown in several exhibitions in Kenya, including his recent solo exhibition Mirror Mirror: Portraits of Being Alive, Alliance Francaise, Nairobi, Kenya; Affordable Art Show, The National Museum of Nairobi; Tiny Christmas Works 2022, One Off Gallery, Nairobi, Kenya; Introspective, Liminal Spaces, Nairobi, Kenya.
THAMEUR MEJRI, TUNISIA, B. 1982
Heavily inspired by Roland Barthes, Derrida, Picasso, and David Lynch, Thameur Mejri’s apophatic canvases are deconstruction in the flesh, expressing what he calls a “secular exorcism.” This active deconstruction is done to showcase the violent hierarchy of the signified over signifier, to make some sense of how we as humans are conditioned by dogma, circumstance, and the power elite.
To achieve any understanding of our conditioning, Mejri feels we must deconstruct our landscape, our surroundings, and ourselves to free ourselves from the external – to shed light on the difference, as Derrida mentions, to regain control of ourselves and to see objects and our environment for what it does to us, how it shapes us, and how it threatens our existence while at the same time shaping it. His canvases are an exercise in cathartic release, to look inwards and outwards at the same time, so to free ourselves from the shackles of our dogmatic existence.
He has exhibited widely, including the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, London (2020), the 13th Cairo Biennial, Cairo, Egypt (2019) Dakar Biennale of Contemporary African Art, Dakar, Senegal (2018), N' Namdi Center for Contemporary Art, Detroit, USA (2018), and upcoming solo exhibitions at Le macLYON, Lyon, France (Feb 2021) and Montague Contemporary, New York, USA (March 2021).
Mejri’s work forms part of many prestigious collections of art, including Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah, UAE / The Sindika Dokolo Foundation, Luanda, Angola / Dalloul Art Foundation, Beirut, Lebanon. The Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden (MACAAL), Marrakech. Morocco.
MISKA MOHMMED, SUDAN, B. 1995
Miska Mohmmed’s paintings are heavily inspired by the undulating gestural landscape of her home in Khartoum, growing up nearby the Nile river. Her semi-abstract works fill the picture plane, with subtle color gradations suggesting an interplay between land, water, air, flora and fauna. Her ingenious use of color and line, combined with semi-abstract forms manifests the physical terrains that inform the work as well as their energy and atmosphere - capturing the energetic tension that exists between the bustle of a frenetic city and the tranquility of nature. We will be showcasing new large scale acrylic works on paper demonstrating her magnificent color work and abstraction.
Born in Khartoum, Sudan, Mohmmed received a BFA in Painting from the College of Fine and Applied Arts, Sudan University in 2016. Mohmmed has exhibited widely, including exhibitions at Art Dubai 2022, Dubai, UAE; Art x Lagos 2021 and 2019, Lagos, Nigeria; Investec Cape Town Art Fair 2021, Cape Town, South Africa; multiple shows at Circle Art Gallery in Nairobi, Kenya; the Rashid Diab Arts Centre in Khartoum, Sudan; and the French Cultural Centre in Khartoum, Sudan among others.
MONGEZI NCAPHAYI, SOUTH AFRICAN, B. 1983
Mongezi Ncaphayi’s practice demonstrates, across multiple planes of dimension, his attempt to map his own subconscious. Inspired heavily by jazz as a saxophonist, and informed by personal traumas and lived experience, his highly emotive works form an abstract visual language uniquely his own. Forms of movement are integral for his practice - visually capturing how he listens and how he responds to his inner emotions. ‘The compositions are free flowing improvisations: ’It’s a communication between the work and myself,’’ says Ncaphayi. ’I do not always know what I am connected to, but there are different ways of listening.”
Mongezi Ncaphayi was born in 1983 in Benoni in Eastern Gauteng, South Africa, and currently lives and works in Cape Town, South Africa. Following his graduation with a Diploma in Art and Design from the Ekurhuleni East College-Benoni in 2005, Ncaphayi completed a Professional Printmaking Course at Artist Proof Studio in 2008. In 2012, he obtained a Certificate in Advanced Studies from School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, USA. Ncaphayi was the recipient of the prestigious Absa L’atelier Gerard Sekoto Award in 2013, earning him a three-month residency at the Cite Des Arts in Paris, France. In 2011, Ncaphayi received the Ampersand Foundation Fellowship in New York City, USA, while, in 2016, he was awarded a grant from the Prince Claus Fund Grant in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Selected artist-in-residency programmes include: The Atelier le Grand Village Residency in Angouleme, France, in 2014 and the Thami Mnyele Foundation Residency in Amsterdam, Netherlands, in 2016.
In 2019, Ncaphayi received the Africa First Art Prize, awarding him a residency in Israel which culminated in a solo presentation of new works at the 2020 Investec Cape Town Art Fair in Cape Town, South Africa. In 2020, Ncaphayi participated in the inaugural Stellenbosch Triennale, curated by Khanyisile Mbongwa, in the group exhibition Tomorrow there will be more of us. In 2023, Ncaphayi was selected as a finalist for the Sovereign African Art Prize at the Norval Foundation, South Africa.
Ncaphayi’s work is included in a number of important collections, including: the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington DC, USA; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, USA; Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), Manchester, USA; Schooul of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA), Boston, USA; Thami Mnyele Foundation, Amsterdam, Netherlands; Bibliotheque Nationale de France, Paris, France; The Ampersand Foundation (TAF), London, UK; ABSA Art Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa; the Luciano Benetton Foundation, Treviso, Italy among others.
ANTHONY NSOFOR, NIGERIA, B. 1973
Anthony Nsofor's practice over the past 20 years has been strongly autobiographical, dealing with themes of governance, migration, sexuality and the Nigerian condition. As a student at the University of Nigeria--Nsukka, Nsofor delevoped his own unique painting style under the tutelage of luminaries such as Chika Okeke-Agulu, El Anatsui, and as a studio assistant for Professor Obiora Udechukwu. Eschewing a literal embrace of the iconographical Uli symbolism for which Nsukka is known, he has evolved the use of Uli symbolism into a unique and subtle use of lines and negative space that is driven by his subconcious yet intended to rewrite African mythologies and ideologies.Anthony Nsofor graduated from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and majored in painting in 1997. His work has been shown widely, including exhibitions: So Far, Ikoyi, Lagos (2018); Integration 4, Dak’Art OFF Group exhibition, Foundation Sonatel, Mermoz, Senegal (2018); SOGAL Art Auction, Lagos, (2018); SMO Contemporary Booth, ArtX Lagos, Nigeria (2017); Important Works in Collection of Professor Anya, Intercontinental Hotel, Lagos (2017); Temple Muse, Lagos, (2015); The Contemporaries, The Wheatbaker, Lagos,(2015); Anya Fulu Ugo exhibition, University of Nigeria, Nsukka (2015); Autobiography and Beatitudes, Pan Atlantic University, Lagos (2012-2014); Beyond Figuration, Omenka Gallery, Ben Enwonwu Foundation, Lagos (2009), A Glimpse into Nigerian Art, Cheikh Anta Diop Univ., Senegal (2006); Homage to Asele, the National Museum, Lagos (2003).
MARC STANDING, ZIMBABWE, B. 1976
Marc Standing’s ethereal and abstract practice is heavily inspired by his personal life experiences, displaying a visual expression of his personal search for identity as well as the complexities felt by mass consciousness. Heavily influenced by both the natural world and his lived societal experiences, his works have the feeling of both mental nodes of thought as well as organic cellular systems in constant flux.
Marc describes his work as “…using a lot of layering with the intention of barraging the viewer with a plethora of pictorial stimulus … storytelling and imagination fuse into a visual mirage of wonderment.”
Born and raised in Harare, Zimbabwe, Standing spent his formative years in Southern Africa, studying Fine Arts at the University of Cape Town, where he graduated with honors. Standing then spent over a decade living and working across Australia and Asia, where he participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions, in Australia, China, England, the US, Greece, India, Hong Kong, Maldives, and Singapore. He is currently based out of London.
He has participated in several esteemed residencies, such as Amilla Fushi in the Maldives, as well as residencies in the Philippines, Shanghai, and Mexico. He was a finalist for the Sovereign Art Prize and his works can be found in public and private collections around the world, including the Rockefeller Foundation, New York; Artbank, Australia; The Groucho Club, London; and the Cathay Pacific Collection, among others.