January 24 through July 27, 2014
Curator: Allyson Purpura
Nigerian-born artist Victor Ekpuk is best known for his improvisational use of nsibidi, a form of ideographic writing associated with the powerful Ekpe men’s association of southeastern Nigeria. As a student of fine arts at Obafemi Awolowo University in Ife in the mid-1980s, Ekpuk worked in a pedagogical environment informed by onaism, a Yorùbá aesthetic philosophy that urged students to explore the logics of pattern and design in indigenous African art forms. Ekpuk’s early fascination with nsibidi during these years—its economy of line and encoded meanings—led to his broader explorations of drawing as writing, and to the invention of his own fluid letterforms. As a mature artist, Ekpuk has so internalized the rhythm and contours of his “script” that it flows from his hand like the outpouring of a personal archive.
In recent years, Ekpuk’s approach to mark making has come to flourish through his investigations of scale, motion, surface, and form. Auto-Graphics features selections from several of Ekpuk’s new bodies of work, including collage, digital prints, and his large scale drawings—bold, vibrant, yet restrained compositions in which nsibidi signs are cropped, abstracted and glided out of sight through the illusion of magnification. Their dense grounds of micro-stories and bristling opaque forms contrast with the figural, more cursive works on view. Ekpuk’s compositions are not tentative or ambivalent, and are drawn with no erasure. Like nsibidi, which communicates through both visual mark and gesture, Ekpuk’s immersive drawings seem to be choreographed with the full force of his body. This will become readily evident to visitors when, upon entering the museum, they are greeted by one of Ekpuk’s ephemeral works drawn directly onto the gallery wall—an ample surface on which to explore the infinite potential of the hand-drawn line.
Sponsored in part by Krannert Art Museum and partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council
January 24 through July 27, 2014
Curator: Tumelo Mosaka
Yoko Inoue, a multi-disciplinary artist from Kyoto, Japan, explores the relationship between mass-produced objects and their mutating transcultural value. Inoue creates ceramic hybrid objects that are hand casted from popular items found in urban markets. Amongst many things, these objects portray Coca-Cola bottles, Buddhas, and Hello Kitty figurines that have been morphed with traditional Japanese symbols to inspire new ideas and questions about globalization and its transformative impact.
Inoue presents a largely ceramic installation that transforms the gallery space into a labyrinth of assembled objects, displayed like vending booths derived from traditional Japanese temple fairs. She is interested in the cultural process of assimilation and its effect on the value and form of objects as their symbolism changes into something new. Inoue investigates how cultural symbols acquire new meaning beyond their original context when absorbed and circulated within a new context.
Sponsored in part by Fred and Donna Giertz and the Krannert Art Museum Endowment Fund
January 24 through May 4, 2014
Curator: Kathryn Koca Polite
The Guerrilla Girls, an anonymous group of female artists, began their social critique of the art world in 1985 with posters and billboards that revealed its continued discrimination on the basis of gender and race. Their mission—of exposing these inequalities and promoting social change—declared to the public what unfortunately was already known and understood by most artists, curators, art dealers, and many others at that time. The group’s anonymity and guerrilla tactics, such as appropriating and subverting well-known artistic works, gave their collective radical impact. Their 1989 posters Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum? and The Advantages of Being a Woman Artist presented hard truths that incorporated biting humor and alarming statistics.
As a complement to the exhibition Not Ready to Make Nice: Guerrilla Girls in the Artworld and Beyond, Art as Provocation features works from the museum’s permanent collection whose creators used similar tactics to confront societal inequities surrounding race, gender, or sexual orientation; to protest military conflict; or to criticize growing class disparity. The contemporary artists featured in this exhibition utilize varying forms of appropriation, humor, and subversion to make a statement on current realities and highlight the need for change.
The exhibition presents paintings, sculpture, and works on paper by artists such as Michael Ray Charles, Judy Chicago, Sue Coe, Vernon Fisher, Barbara Kruger, Peter Saul, Lorna Simpson, Carrie Mae Weems, and David Wojnarowicz.
Currently on view
Curator: Allyson Purpura
In October 2012, Krannert Art Museum opened Encounters: The Arts of Africa, a renovated gallery dedicated to KAM's African Art collection.
The completely redesigned space invites visitors to see exhibited objects not only as visually compelling works of art in their own right, but also as objects of encounter that can “tell” stories about the broader social contexts and often fraught global histories through which they have journeyed.
The gallery is organized thematically and many displays include touch screens that contain video clips of artist interviews, masquerades, and descriptive vignettes. These bring the “telling” of African stories into the museum experience and draw out resonances among the objects on view.
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Photo by Kathryn Koca Polite