A striking new exhibition of 80 identical two-metre-tall figures, by British-Trinidadian artist Zak Ove, has opened at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
The installation, a group of repeated forms that confront the viewer face forward, is a smaller version of a work created for the 2016 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair (named after the number of African countries) and sited in the courtyard of London’s Somerset House.
Entitled Black and Blue: The Invisible Man and the Masque of Blackness, the installation has been created from graphite but is based on a small wooden sculpture given to the artist as a child. Ove says he aims to “reignite and reinterpret lost culture using new-world materials while paying tribute to both spiritual and artistic African identity”. Instead of using traditional materials such as ebony, he looks for ways to express African forms in contemporary materials.
Ove’s work explores African identity and history and is partly based on his own experience of growing up in a mixed-race family in London and Trinidad. In 2015 he became the first Caribbean artist to be commissioned by the British Museum. His pair of seven-metre high Moko Jumbie sculptures are now permanently installed in the museum’s Africa Gallery.
Themes ranging from racism, marginalised communities and the Black Lives Matter movement to slavery, migration and West Indian carnivals have all influenced his work.
Black and Blue joins a number of other YSP exhibitions that explore contemporary issues of identity, migration and home – among them works by Chinese ‘dissident’ architect Ai Weiwei, disabled British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare, Spanish sculptor Jaume Plensa and Iranian film-maker and photographer Shirin Neshat.
It can be seen until June 3 in the Lower Park.