Art@Site Sunday Jack Akpan African Family Freiberg am Neckar

Sunday Jack Akpan


African Family

African Family
It is interesting that in an essay in the magazine African Arts about the exhibition concept, the two authors cite Sarenco without question as Kenyan, and place the sculptures on a level with those of the Nigerian, Sunday Jack Akpan. Where Sarenco positions himself in this debate for a classification of the contemporary, becomes clear in the foreword to the catalog of an exhibition in Fürth, Germany, in 1996, where he attacked young artists in Europe and the US as"lifeless zombies" pursuing a bureaucratic career within the point of view of capitalist society. His conclusion is: "There is no life today, no art, outside of Africa."29 As Sarenco sees it, contemporary art in Africa is equivalent to non-Western, - he speaks of the other qualities of Kenya's art: "The things we love are amusing, spirited and simple. Things made to play with and to live with.
Sarenco had a certain interest in artists who represented a kind of originality, in the sense of integrating modern elements or even inventing new styles, as for example the Nigerian Sunday Jack Akpan with his cement tomb sculptures, dealing with new materials and new topics.
Sunday Jack Akpan (born Ikot Ide Etukudo, 1940) is a Nigerian sculptor who has been described as "the contemporary African equivalent of the medieval artisan". He is most famous for his work in cement, in which he crafts traditional-style statues of tribal leaders and other figures, mainly as grave art, which he then paints; he has also created other types of commercial art, including religious figures and business signage.
His work has been shown at the Venice Biennale and at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, among other venues. Some of his work is in the collection of the Horniman Museum in London.
Sunday Jack Akpan calls himself a” Natural Authentic Sculptor”. He has said “My work is natural because nobody taught me. My work is authentic because I mould cement to make it look like a real person”.
Der Kunstkral von Freiberg am Neckar! In Freiberg gibt es seit Ende August 1995 ein kleines Spezialmuseum, das äußerlich Anklänge an den berühmt gewordenen Ndebele-Kral Südafrikas zeigt, der wahrscheinlich schönsten und künstlerischsten Form dieser traditionellen afrikanischr> Es beherbergt eine Sammlung der in Deutschland noch viel zu wenig bekannten neuen afrikanischen Kunst, will an die Geburt dieser neuentstehenden Kunstwelt Ende der zwanziger Jahre erinnern, ihre ersten Lebensjahrzehnte exemplarisch darstellen und ihre spannende aktuelle Entwicklung verfolgen.’:
In May 1991, the exhibition titled Africa Explores opened in New York. Curator Susan Vogel presented more than 130 highly diverse works from 15 African countries in the Museum for African Art and the New Museum of Contemporary Art. With a mixture of different media and styles, Africa Explores set out to retell the story of 20th century art production in Africa from the perspective of the continent itself.
Concept and critical review
In both museums, visitors were greeted by life-sized objects at the entrance to the exhibition: a seated chief made of painted cement by the Nigerian artist Sunday Jack Akpan inaugurated the exhibition; next to this figure, coffins in thehape of cars, vegetables, or airplanes, sold in Ghana by the Kane Kwei Carpentry Workshop since the 1950s, were on display.
The selection of these works made it clear right from the start that Susan Vogel, then director of the Museum for African Art, did not want to limit herself to one form of creative work. On the contrary, Africa Explores was about showing different art styles which, according to Vogel, equally represented 20th century art practice in Africa.
In the exhibition catalogue the curator describes five types of art which she was able to identify in her research: first of all, Traditional art, which was primarily practiced within ethnic groups and aimed to fulfill a particular purpose, such as masks used in certain rituals.
Vogel outlines New functional art as a new, eclectic form of this traditional art, making use of all kinds of materials and motives.
Popular art or Urban art represented the artisanal, commercial work by self-taught sign painters and graphic designers, while International art stood for the works of urban academic artists.
Finally, with ‘Extinct’ art the curator defines traditional art of the past, stored both in collective memory and museum collecti