October Gallery will exhibit new works by the renowned artist Owusu-Ankomah from 15th September to 29th October 2011.
Born in Sekondi, Ghana, in 1956, Owusu-Ankomah pursued studies in Fine Arts at Ghanatta College in Accra before moving to Bremen, Germany where he now lives and works.
His charged paintings on canvas depict an alternate world wherein monumental human figures – his core motif – are shown moving within an ocean of signs that surround, support and, in fact, define them.
The way in which these figures coexist and interact with various symbolic sets has developed through distinct phases over time, reflecting Owusu-Ankomah’s own journey of spiritual discovery.
His early work drew heavily on the ancient traditions of African rock-painting and masquerade, before his figures shed their masks and body paintings to become unashamedly visible. Finally, naked and powerful, these eloquent actors became covered in scripts of complex symbols that, in a studied trompe l’oeil effect, camouflage their finely sculpted bodies against alternating backgrounds of relevant and significant signs.
Using a palette of new colours, Owusu-Ankomah’s latest work further develops these possibilities, adding further visual signs of his own invention to the customary lexicon of adinkra symbols, each representing a particular concept used by the Akan-speaking peoples of Ghana. In the same Akan language kusum refers to sacred sites involved in the secret performances of mystery rites. Owusu-Ankomah extends his visual explorations in novel directions by developing innovative symbols, such as the Microcron – the circle of shining orbs signifying ‘universes inside universes’.
This unique symbolic logic yokes together ancient traditions of secret knowledge with current speculation about the mysterious nature of reality derived from theoretical physics, which predicts the parallel coexistence of multi-dimensional universes within a single multiverse. To illustrate quite how mysterious such hidden knowledge can become, Owusu-Ankomah points to the existence of information amongst the Dogon people of Mali whose traditional veneration of the dog-star Sirius (the brightest star in the sky at night) includes awareness of its small dense companion.
The actual existence of Sirus B, a hot and highly dense, dwarf, companion star, was only confirmed by modern astronomers using a large 18” telescope in 1862. Today, the question remains as to how the Dogon people, unencumbered by advanced technologies, could have known of their sacred star’s binary companion, since it has always been, and still remains today, completely invisible to the naked, human eye.
These and other ‘mysteries’ are embedded in the symbolic web of messages – both secret and exoteric – which beguile the inhabitants of these marvellously painted worlds. The same iconic glyphs encapsulate, for those who strive to decipher their concealed meanings further, Owusu-Ankomah’s musings on the wonders of this mysterious world replete with secret signs and alive with hidden meanings.
OWUSU-ANKOMAH: MIRCROCRON – KUSUM
Exhibition dates: 15th September – 29th October 2011
Venue: October Gallery, 24 Old Gloucester Street, London WC1N 3AL
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