Nigerian Sculptor Nnenna Okore Impresses at Contemporary African Art Gallery

Raised in Nigeria, now living in the United States, the young sculptor Nnenna Okore makes a strong impression in this solo show of new work in New York’s Contemorary African Art Gallery. Her primary materials are organic recyclables — burlap, jute rope, paper — along with small, cylindrical, fingerlike ceramic forms. In several cases she attaches the ceramic pieces to sheets of burlap that have been stiffened with resin and molded into undulating curves. The effect is decorative, the basic format a reminder that she spent an apprentice year working in El Anatsui’s studio in Nigeria around the time he was developing his pieced-together and draped metal “fabrics.”

More interesting, because more her own, are wall sculptures that take her closer to abstract natural forms. Some are open, seemingly fragile networks made from dye-soaked jute threads that twist and intertwine, like tendrils or root systems.

Other pieces, shaped from handmade paper, have the furrowed texture of tree bark or leathery skin. One extraordinary paper piece, dyed pink and brown, seems to burst from the gallery wall like a giant dried and withered rose. Like all of Ms. Okore’s best work, this is a tough, unlovely image, about when recycling passes into disintegration.

article by Holland Cotter via

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