Highlights will include new steel sculptures by Sokari Douglas Camp that continue in the vein of her recent Jonkonnu Masquerade series. These poignant yet playful works focus on the significance of feathers, examining that material’s links to colonial wealth and power, as they combine imaginative elements of carnival masquerades and festival processions. New ‘nail portraits’ by Alexis Peskine, will also be shown. These powerful works made by hammering nails of different sizes into wooden boards focus on the Black experience and questions of identity as they map the spread of the African diaspora. Exhibited will be paintings by Govinda Sah whose work comprises interwoven layers of acrylic traces and marks that build into what Sah describes as a ‘long unfolding conversation between the canvas and myself.’
October Gallery presents Celestial Blue, a solo exhibition of new works by the renowned artist Rachid Koraïchi. Born in the Aurès mountains of Algeria, Koraïchi’s creative explorations have employed an impressive range of media, which include paintings on canvas, paper and silk, bronze, wood and steel sculptures, ceramics and textiles. Koraïchi’s abiding fascination with signs of all kinds is the unwavering constant informing his conscious and finely detailed work.
In accordance with Koraïchi’s predilection for the magical number 7 – considered significant in all the major traditions – Celestial Blue celebrates the artist’s 77th year. This exhibition includes canvas works interspersed with statuesque steel sculptures, in his characteristically figurative forms. The works on canvas are inspired by the nasibs that the 12th century Sufi mystic and writer, Ibn ‘Arabi, set down in his book of love poems, The Interpreter of Desires (1215). Each large, square canvas presents an original design produced in white on an indigo blue ground that improvises upon one of the original poems. Rather than being a direct translation, each work becomes a sustained reflection on the profundity of Ibn ‘Arabi’s original vision, offering a visual correlative to the ideas expressed in a modified, entirely contemporary form.
October Gallery will present TimeSpace, a solo exhibition of works by El Anatsui commencing during Frieze Week. Over a dazzling career spanning more than five decades, El Anatsui has become one of the most acclaimed contemporary artists of our time. His sculptures employing an extraordinary range of media and many uncommon materials have investigated a broad array of different subjects. As the new century dawned, his early explorations in clay and tropical hardwoods gradually gave way to inventive, new strategies designed to repurpose various found materials: iron graters, milk-tin lids and — most famously — aluminium bottle-tops. Today, El Anatsui is best known for his mesmerising metallic installations, composed of tens — if not hundreds — of thousands of individual bottle-tops fastened together with copper wire. Over the past two decades, these shape-shifting sculptural forms have graced the inner and, more recently, the outer walls of an increasing number of major art institutions around the world.
The exhibition at October Gallery will be an intimate show of new works alongside examples of earlier works that give insight, add context and help explain the development of this hugely influential artist. TimeSpace combines new bottle-top wall sculptures together with several earlier works engaging with other materials and different processes.
This exhibition of predominately contemporary works explores the artist’s innovative and experimental approach to tools, processes and materials. Taking a long-perspective view of his extraordinary career, TimeSpace examines the way El Anatsui has, for decades, developed surprising and novel directions that have brought about an unexpected synthesis between African and Western practices. In so doing he has reshaped and profoundly affected the direction of contemporary sculpture, as acknowledged by the Golden Lion awarded to him in 2015 for his lifetime of achievement in the arts. El Anatsui’s sophisticated and deftly organised sculptures represent an original and unique synthesis of the diverse histories of African art with selected influences appropriated from the paradigms of contemporary Western practice.
El Anatsui is this year’s artist for the Hyundai Commission at Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall, which will open to the public 10th October.
October Gallery presents Nges’rhodlweni: A Portal for Black Joy, by South African artist Zana Masombuka, also known as ‘Ndebele Superhero’. In her first solo exhibition in London, Masombuka explores the intersection of identity and culture in a mix of mediums that include photography, film, sculpture and performance. From these diverse materials, she weaves inspiring visual narratives of arresting aesthetic subtlety, drawing inspiration from her upbringing in a small rural town in the Ndebele homeland in South Africa. Place is central to Masombuka’s work, and her practice is imbued with traditional Ndebele lore, which the artist employs to bring about a radical re-examination of the individual’s position within the wider community.
Nges’rhodlweni: A Portal for Black Joy showcases a body of work which has been developing over the last three years. The title refers to a special space in the Ndebele household, where people of all ages gather to share in the communion of art, creating a site of expression for the entire community. This sacred space encourages connection to the Enas (spirit), which permits manifestations of a heightened sense of joy. This euphoria is recognised as creative energy and is a prerequisite for the exchange of essential knowledge. Masombuka describes how being present and open to one's community in this preserved space facilitates the growth of knowledge within each individual, something fundamental to the evolution of culture. For the Ndebele community such transmission is not considered linear but instead is imagined as being cyclical, hence infinite and unbounded.