Los Angeles – UTA Artist Space is pleased to announce Dans Un Ciel Ensoleille, a group exhibition, opening on Saturday, July 15, 2017. The show will include the work of four African artists, Frédéric Bruly Bouabré, Paa Joe, Cameron Platter and Serge Attukwei Clottey, including drawings, sculpture and paintings.
These four artists challenge historically imposed societal values through repurposing traditional everyday materials from their heritage and transforming them into contemporary interpretations of a new world view. Their desire to create art is manifested through this transformation of mundane objects into intricate compositions that illustrate the artists’ cultural history and complexities of existence.
Paa Joe (b. 1947, Greater Accra Region in Ghana) is most famous for his exuberant reinterpretation of the Ghanaian legacy of Abebuu Adekai, or fantasy coffins. Joe sees the coffins as celebratory and reflective of West African attitudes towards death. The fantasy coffin trade has been a strong tradition in Ghana for several decades, linking back to pre-colonial West African sculpture but also recalling the pomp of Egyptian royal funerals. The ornate sarcophagi celebrate death and the afterlife, sculpted in the form of objects representative of the deceased and their interests. Joe’s work includes lions for tribal chiefs, chili peppers, chickens, mobile phones and even cola bottles. Joe is also the subject of the movie, Paa Joe and the Lion, which premiered in 2016 in the United Kingdom.
Cameron Platter (b. 1978, Johannesburg, South Africa) makes stories, pictures, and objects that are documents of contemporary morality. Platter works in a wide range of mediums, including sculpture, animation, painting, drawing, and printmaking. Platter works from everyday experience with subjects overlooked or considered delinquent, on the outside fringes of South Africa’s popular culture, and fills the ordinary and marginal with new, thought-provoking meaning. His thoughts and ideas are collaged from everyday experiences of people, current politics and the dreams and desires of the human journey. Each work is inspired by a specific story or event that Platter tries to make global and personal at the same time and his drawings are a series of interlinking thoughts and meditations, capturing the most fleeting moments in daily life.
Serge Attukwei Clottey (b. 1985, Accra, Ghana) meticulously weaves together various narratives about his native Ghana, including displacement, post-colonialism, gender roles and environmental concerns, through both performance and his examination of the power of everyday objects, in particular yellow plastic water gallons. Originating in Europe, sent to Africa as a means of transporting cooking oil, and later re-used for storing water, they are a prevalent everyday object with a history rooted in trade and migration. Clottey conceived of the concept of Afrogallonism, which he manifests through his sculptures and vibrant tapestry-like assemblages that are created out of these discarded water gallons. Many of his sculptures come from works created for his performance collective GoLokal, which has held numerous public presentations exploring Africa’s place in a highly globalized world
Frédéric Bruly Bouabré (b. 1923, Côte d’Ivoire, d. 2014, Côte d’Ivoire) is one of the most important and influential contemporary African artists, whose legacy includes inventing an alphabet system to preserve and transmit the knowledge of his tribe – the Bété people. Bouabré was among the first of his generation to be exposed to the written word and worked as a civil servant until March 11, 1948 when he had a vision that inspired him to create a pictographic alphabet consisting of 448 monosyllabic pictographs, as he believed it would be easier for an African to learn when working inside a native African writing system. In the 1970’s, Bouabré decided to become an artist full-time, so that he could directly record his people’s myths and traditions. He began to transfer his thoughts to hundreds of small drawings in postcard format, re-purposing the card stock that was widely available in government offices.