Monday, October 13, 2014

LONDON: Wangechi Mutu

Wangechi Mutu, Mountain of Prayer, 2014, Collage painting on vinyl, 30.5 x 35.5 inches. Private collection. Image via

Nguva na Nyoka
October 14 – December 19, 2014

16 Wharf Road
London, UK


Victoria Miro is delighted to present the gallery’s second exhibition by Wangechi Mutu, widely known for her elaborate collages that explore and subvert cultural preconceptions of the female body and the feminine.

Mutu’s practice has been described as engaging in her own unique form of myth-making. This exhibition, Nguva na Nyoka (meaning “Sirens and Serpents” in Kiswahili) presents Mutu's latest body of collage, video and sculptural works. Drawing on such diverse references as East African coastal mythologies (particularly of nguvas, or water women), gender and racial politics, Western popular culture, Eastern and ancient beliefs and autobiography, in her works Mutu proposes worlds within worlds, populated by powerful hybridized female figures.

Mutu’s latest collage-paintings are defined by a shift away from her much-documented use of Mylar as a substrate to a use of vinyl and linoleum as the basis for the works, allowing for a more densely textured and sculptural ground.  Painterly techniques are employed alongside Mutu’s signature construction of images comprised of deftly cut-out and collaged forms. In addition, Mutu’s visual language is further enriched in these works by her use of unexpected materials such as tea, batik fabrics, synthetic hair, Kenyan soil, feathers, and sand, amongst other media – many of which are imbued with their own cultural significations.

The  interweaving  of  fact  with  fiction  and  an  extension  of  the  possibilities  for  yet  another  group  of  symbolic  female characterizations that co-exist in various cultures as another understanding (or constructing) of femaleness underpins this new body  of  work.  The  exhibition  will  also  feature  a  video,  entitled  Nguva,  a  multi-tiered  performance  featuring  the  mesmeric eponymous role: a mysterious aquatic character who emerges from the sea onto land and wanders, restless, vicious and curious.

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