“Wangechi Mutu: Ndoro Na Miti”

Art, Contemporary art
3 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

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Wangechi Mutu’s new exhibition makes extensive use of red-brown soil—along with paper, wood and bronze—to explore our relationship with the natural world. In an ambitious attempt to synthesize traditional African imagery with biomorphic abstraction and idiosyncratic takes on art history and popular culture, Mutu expands her well-known collage-based practice into three dimensions. The results, while occasionally fussy, are inarguably rich in association, evoking a composite mythology that touches on everything from dream states and material realities to biology and ethnography.

At the entrance to the gallery, Horn Tree, a large treelike sculpture, sprouts a branching arrangement of cow horns. It’s a slightly surreal object that hints at more complex hybridizations to come. This second dreamer, a polished bronze head resting on its side, conjoins African mask-making traditions with Constantin Brancusi’s Sleeping Muse.

Another group of objects resembles a series of old-fashioned naval mines. Each is about the size of a bowling ball, and according to their titles, modeled on viruses.

These are just a few of the works here, and although Mutu’s combination of diverse subjects and forms can feel forced or contrived, there are still plenty of ideas to dig into.

By: Michael Wilson

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