October Gallery, London, announces a new exhibition this autumn by Nnenna Okore. This will be her third solo exhibition at the gallery.
The proverbial Igbo axiom Ụkwa Ruo Oge Ya Ọ Daa, references the theatrical falling of breadfruit from the mother tree. The plummet of this tropical fruit, known in Igbo as Ukwa, not only indicates the height of its ripening phase, it also sparks the genesis of a new trajectory - the decaying stage. Symbolically the fallen Ukwa represents metamorphic processes that are constantly injected into the natural cycle to establish cosmic balance and planetary order. These fascinating twists and turns bring into being new realities, seasons, chapters, formations and systems.
Okore’s practice explores these subjects of ephemerality and transformation. Her intricate works contain rich textures, and reveal extraordinary manifestations of colour and formations, often resembling organic elements in nature, such as roots, veins, and flora. Each visceral sculpture is created through various repetitive and labour-intensive techniques, like teasing, twisting, dyeing and sewing, applied to natural materials such as cheesecloth, burlap and paper, which only serve to further accentuate these natural elements. Okore is deeply disturbed by how human activities are contributing to climate change, aggravating and interrupting the natural cycle of life. To juxtapose these worldly energies she weaves the Igbo adage, Ụkwa Ruo Oge Ya Ọ Daa, through her work capturing a collective human experience that is imbued with images of renewal and regeneration. Yet everything has its season and everything has its due. And not even the breadfruit high up on the Ụkwa tree can escape the rule of life.
Nnenna Okore is a Professor of Art and department chair at North Park University, Chicago. She has a BA in Painting from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and both an MA and MFA from the University of Iowa. Okore is a 2012 Fulbright Award recipient and has exhibited internationally. Her works have been featured in several important exhibitions such as Second Lives: Remixing the Ordinary, Museum of Arts and Design, New York; We Face Forward, Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester; Africa Africans, Museu Afro Brasil, Sao Paulo and When the Heavens Meet the Earth, The Heong Gallery, Cambridge. Most recently she had a major installation Sheer Audacity, exhibited at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, USA.