Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects is pleased to introduce the work of Wangechi Mutu. Mutu was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya, and lives and works currently in New York. On view in her first exhibition on the west coast will be works on paper and a site specific wall painting. This work is based on the form of a centipede which in various African mythologies represented and foretold the introduction of the railroad into the continent. Mutu laces the piece with a satirical tone and references to wars and other tragic events.
Mutu's drawings are imaginary tales of female characters caught in a moment of pose and masquerade. The subjects are sometimes posed lasciviously; complicit, and aware of the role they play in generating desire. Yet it is their mottled skin, their disfigurements, their battles with snakes and beings surrounding them that turn them into horrific emblems of a larger disturbing narrative. Their false or missing appendages, combined with glamorous attire and jewels, their pained but ecstatic expressions, their mythic qualities complicate their position of the quintessential scantily clad female. Augmenting an already fraught subject matter, Mutu sometimes appropriates African motifs to underscore the ways in which ethnicity and race play a role in these unequal exchanges. They represent the fractured experience, the female as fantastical, powerful, traumatized and reinvented.
Wangechi Mutu received herMFA degree from Yale University, School of Art Sculpture, New Haven in 2000 and her BFA at Cooper Union College, New York. Her work was recently included in "Black President: the Art and Legacy of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti" at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, NY. Upcoming exhibitions are "We Are Electric", at Deitch Projects, New York, and "Looking Both Ways: Art of the Contemporary African Diaspora", Museum for African Art, Long Island City, New York, traveling to the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts, and the Cranbrook Art Museum, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Wangechi Mutu is currently an artist in residence at the Studio Museum Harlem, NY, and has been awarded a Cooper Union Artist Residency Programand a Jamaica Center for the Arts Fellowship. This is her first exhibition at the gallery.
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