Ụkwa Ruo Oge Ya Ọ Daa – There’s a time for everything is a current show at London's October Gallery, showcasing Nnenna Okore's intricate abstract sculptures inspired by organic elements in nature, such as roots, veins, and flora.
The proverbial Igbo axiom Ụkwa Ruo Oge Ya Ọ Daa references the theatrical falling of breadfruit from the mother tree. The plummet of this tropical fruit, known in Igbo as Ukwa, not only indicates the height of its ripening phase, it also sparks the genesis of a new trajectory – the decaying stage.
"Symbolically the fallen Ukwa represents metamorphic processes that are constantly injected into the natural cycle to establish cosmic balance and planetary order," explains the gallery. "These fascinating twists and turns bring into being new realities, seasons, chapters, formations, and systems.
"Okore’s practice explores these subjects of ephemerality and transformation. Her intricate works contain rich textures and reveal extraordinary manifestations of colour and formations... Each visceral sculpture is created through various repetitive and labor-intensive techniques, like teasing, twisting, dyeing, and sewing, applied to natural materials such as cheesecloth, burlap, and paper, which only serve to further accentuate these natural elements."
Okore is apparently deeply disturbed by how human activity is contributing to climate change, aggravating and interrupting the natural cycle of life. The gallery adds: "To juxtapose these worldly energies she weaves the Igbo adage, Ụkwa Ruo Oge Ya Ọ Daa, through her work capturing a collective human experience that is imbued with images of renewal and regeneration. Yet everything has its season and everything has its due. And not even the breadfruit high up on the Ụkwa tree can escape the rule of life."
Nnenna Okore is a Professor of Art and department chair at North Park University, Chicago. She has a BA in Painting from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and both an MA and MFA from the University of Iowa. Okore is a 2012 Fulbright Award recipient and has exhibited internationally.
Ụkwa Ruo Oge Ya Ọ Daa – There’s a time for everything runs until 2 December at London's October Gallery on Old Gloucester Street.
All images courtesy of October Gallery