Curated by Osi Audu
January 24 – April 15, 2018
Alice and Horace Chandler Gallery and North Gallery
Odili Donald Odita, Metropolitan, 2017, acrylic on canvas, courtesy the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery
The artists in Abstract Minded: Works by Six Contemporary African Artists, all born and/or raised in countries in Africa, produce work thematically or conceptually connected to the continent by using abstraction as a way of engaging in a broader conversation about art. Abstraction is as indigenous to African visual culture as it is to other parts of the world. The exploration of purely formal elements is not only readily evidenced in the rich traditions of textile design and other decorative practices from the continent, but is also present in the stylization of much figurative work from Africa. In our increasingly global existence of the 21st century the world is becoming less and less exotic, and is being experienced more as a sphere of commonalities of being, dreams, fears and aspirations. This exhibition is not simply about looking for the African in African art, it is also about looking at what some African artists are doing today in order to get a fuller sense of the current “state of things” in contemporary African art.
Osi Audu / Nicholas Hlobo / Serge Alain Nitegeka / Odili Donald Odita / Nnenna Okore / Elias Sime
Nenna Okore, Rooted, 2017, burlap, jute string, dye and wire, courtesy the artist
"As our respective nations become increasingly globalized—economically, culturally, and politically (despite growing tensions perpetuated by American nationalism)—artists, curators and writers have been thinking more abstractly about contemporary identity politics. This nuance subverts the linear framework that has been provided to us through art history. Abstraction has the ability to equip us with a language more suitable for referencing the fluidity of identity as opposed to the fixedness of figuration. As curators and historians like Okwui Ewenzor, Simon Njami, and Yesomi Umolu encourage us to break away from traditional westernized perceptions of African art, we are constantly reminded of how integral abstraction has been in charting this path away from methods of the colonizer. The artists pulled together in this exhibition are also quite integral in creating these cartographies—through their art specifically and their practice more broadly, this group of living artists asserts ways in which we can begin to dismantle and reconfigure the canon of african art in the contemporary." –Taylor Renee Aldridge, co-founding editor of ARTS.BLACK
Organized by Michaela Mosher and the N’namdi Center for Contemporary Art, Detroit, MI.