Absent from “Ndoro Na Miti,” Wangechi Mutu’s latest exhibition at Gladstone Gallery, were her signature collage elementsthe magazine lips, eyes, and limbs and the cut-up animal imagery that have previously marked the fantastical, hybrid female protagonists in her work. The only paper on view was in the form of pulp. The Kenyan-born, Brooklyn-based artist mixed it with wood glue and red soil to form many of the austere and otherworldly objects in her show, whose title translates from Gikuyu as “Mud and Trees.” With her striking installation of figurative and abstract sculptures, most of them on plain pedestals of varying heights, Mutu evoked an artful museum display of mysterious treasuresgeological and iconographicfrom an excavated holy site, clues to a mythological matriarchy.
Prayer Beads, 2016, an earthen version of the devotional item rendered at an unnerving
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