Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Wangechi Mutu: Nguva na Nyoka

Up to Victoria Miro to see Wangechi Mutu's latest show based on both African and her own personal mythology of "Sirens and Serpents". These are her trademark collages, but it appears that her recent work is incorporating more painterly textures which is an interesting development. She handles collage so wonderfully though, and these latest pieces are no exception featuring her almost alien/human hybrid figures.

I am not sure if Mutu was aware of John Everett Millais' Ophelia in Tate Britain, but I saw some parallels with the figures his painting and her piece, If We Live Through It, She'll Carry Us Back, below. I couldn't help but compare the two. Whilst Ophelia sings in the water seemingly oblivious to her fate, Mutus' figure is all too aware of hers and finds solace in the water having jumped from the (slave) ship in the background.
In the gallery upstairs there is a great menacing installation of a female headed serpent asleep having devoured her prey. In the background a ritualistic video installation plays. Most artist's video installations leave me cold, but I found Mutu's to be compelling especially in the presence of that huge intimidating serpent.

The darkness of the gallery and the incessant hum of the video installation adds to the illusion that you have accidentally stumbled upon this serpents lair and if you rouse her with one false step, you may well be her next victim.
Wangechi Mutu I Nguva na Nyoka
until 19th December
Victoria Miro
16 Wharf Road
London N1