Critics’ Picks

Dorothy Amenuke, Coded (detail), 2015–17, jute bags, wool, jute ropes, cotton and woolen yarns, dimensions variable.

Dorothy Amenuke, Coded (detail), 2015–17, jute bags, wool, jute ropes, cotton and woolen yarns, dimensions variable.


Dorothy Amenuke

Nubuke Foundation
7 Lome Close, East Legon
June 17–September 10, 2017

In 2003, artist kąrî'kạchä seid’ou joined the faculty of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Ghana’s prestigious art school in Kumasi, and through his “emancipatory art teaching” program, he ushered in the artistic experimentation and material innovation that this West African country is now known for. Sculptor Dorothy Amenuke, who enrolled in a BFA program at KNUST in 1989 and became a faculty member in 2009, is the art school’s only female lecturer. Amenuke’s latest exhibition, “Twists Turns and Broken Doors,” starts with Habitation-Inhabitation (all works 2015–17), an immersive environment draped in red polyester fabric with additional soft sculptures resembling pillows and thin sausage-like forms. Pitched as a deliberation on bodily parasites and ideas of security, the corporeal work occupies two rooms and updates a more atomized installation of the shown at KNUST last year under the same title.

The works on view here from Amenuke’s ongoing “Scroll Series” consist of seven textile pieces made from woven pandamus mats and jute bags that, in some instances, such as The Scroll 4, have been decorated with organic and inorganic materials. As with 4, The Scroll 6 is suspended with rope that Amenuke also presents as vertical tendrils which well up on the floor. The Scroll 1, also suspended, integrates dyed panels in orange and black. The Scroll 7 is presented as a wall piece and features hand-stitched abstract motifs in gray and golden brown. The most arresting work is The Scroll 2, a partially unspooled rug richly decorated with Amenuke’s abstract hieroglyphs; a length of it is hoisted off the floor and hung in three sweeping curves. Installed in a darkened space, Coded comprises lengths of jute sacking, printed with gray and white letters, and three fluffy balls of fabric, Brazilian wool, jute rope, and cotton and woolen yarns on the floor. The work is an elegant full stop to a show about boundaries and bounded spaces.