Aicon is proud to present I am My Ancestor’s Essence, the gallery’s second solo exhibition of Nigerian-American artist Victor Ekpuk. The show, a series of portraits in contemporary dialogue with African ancestral objects, comprises three distinct bodies of work: canvases that incorporate thick impasto paint layering, a suite of drawings that offer early examples of the artist’s mark-making, and ambitious large-scale totemic sculptures. Through I am My Ancestor’s Essence, the artist locates the past in the present by contemporizing sacred objects. In his own words:
“I chose these objects based on my cultural affiliation to them, the spiritual essence they exude, and the aesthetics of their forms. I believe our identities are the sum of our past and present memories informed by traditions and genetics. As I study the aesthetics of these objects, these portraits are perhaps a search for the essence of ourselves.”
Ekpuk is known for work that engages a diverse spectrum of meaning, often mining historical narratives, the contemporary African diaspora, and humanity’s connection to the sacred. With I am My Ancestor’s Essence, the artist looks to artifacts and colonial-era photographs to guide his reimagined figures layered over intricate backdrops of symbols. These images as text draw the viewer into a participatory relationship with the works, demanding a close look to parse out clues to a more profound meaning.