Ever-Present at Efiɛ Gallery in Dubai
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Efiɛ Gallery in Dubai is holding Ever-Present, a group show featuring six contemporary African artists: J.K. Bruce-Vanderpuije, El Anatsui, Victor Ekpuk, Betty Acquah, Maggie Otieno, and Yaw Owusu. It will run through 1st July 2023.

The exhibition showcases a collection of art pieces reflecting the diverse landscapes and thematic intersections of contemporary African art across generations. It gives visitors an opportunity to glimpse the complex histories, traditions, and values which have shaped the artists and the communities they represent. In their thought-provoking works on view, the artists explore the connections between past and present and investigate how personal and collective histories shape our understanding of the world.

About the participants

J.K. Bruce-Vanderpuije (born in 1899, Jamestown, British Accra; died in 1989) is a famous photographer who founded The Deo Gratias Photo Studio. Established in 1922, it still operates and can be called one of the oldest photography studios in Africa. Bruce-Vanderpuije’s photographs show the urban landscapes of Ghana during its era of independence. Through his lens, he captured the essence of the people, their traditions, and dynamic atmosphere back then.

El Anatsui (born in 1944, Ghana) is a Ghanaian sculptor residing in Nigeria. Using bottle caps sourced from alcohol recycling stations, he creates large-scale cloth-like wall sculptures. His art making process also involves employing such found materials as milk tins, railway sleepers, driftwood, iron nails, and printing plates. In his work, the artist combines traditional African techniques and imagery with abstraction and raises questions about ethnic identity. Among the themes he explores are the environment, transformation, and global consumerism and its history (including slavery).

El Anatsui, Intermittent Signals, 2009. Found aluminum and copper wire. 132 x 420 in. (335.28 x 1066.8 cm). Installation view at the Sterling and Francine Clark Institute. Courtesy of the artist.

Victor Ekpuk (born in 1964, Nigeria) is an internationally acclaimed Nigerian artist based in Washington, D.C., USA, whose art practice involves painting, drawing, and sculpting. His works incorporate the elements of Nsibidi, an ancient Nigerian graphic communication system, and Uli, a traditional artform of the Igbo people. In his work, Ekpuk addresses historical narratives, explores the human condition of identity in society, and delves into African and global contemporary art discourses.

Victor Ekpuk, Untitled 2, 2019. Acrylic on canvas.

Betty Acquah (born in 1965), a Ghanaian feminist painter, creates her florid oil and acrylic paintings using the pointillism technique. Through her art, she pays homage to the ordinary Ghanaian women, “unsung heroes of [Ghana]”. The main theme of Acquah’s works is these women’s trials, ambitions, celebrations, and success.

Betty Acquah, Natures healing glory, 2020. Acrylic. 91.4 x 213.4 x 7.6 cm.

Maggie Otieno (born in 1974) is a Kenyan sculptor based in Nairobi who works in both 2D and 3D. Using different materials and combining them, she creates art pieces inspired by her environment. Otieno’s current medium of choice is metal with 300 year old distressed railway sleepers. In her work, she captures social commentary and diverse experiences of human forms, evoking emotion and creating interactions and movement in abstraction.

Maggie Otieno, Gate Keepers, 2014-2015. Mild steel.

Yaw Owusu (born in 1992, Kumasi, Ghana) is a Ghanaian artist living and working in New York and Accra. Initially a traditional painter, he then turned to creating symbolic representations of the political and socio-economic narratives. The artist’s distinctive sculptural installations are made with found objects and materials, such as steel, gold, silver, and copper. In his work, Owusu explores the notions of value. Using numerous devalued pesewa coins to create his artworks, he calls into question Ghana’s economic and political independence.

Yaw Owusu, No Entry Beyond These Walls (Diptych), 2020. Pennies, Stainless steel, Patina, mounted on wood panels. 60 × 84 × 1 1/2 in. | 152.4 × 213.4 × 3.8 cm.

To learn more about Ever-Present, please visit the exhibition’s official web page.

You might also be interested in visiting An Odyssey of Identity at Firetti Contemporary and Souvenirs Entrelacés by Elladj Lincy Deloumeaux.