11 OCT – 27 OCT.2018
THE SILENCE BEFORE THE MORNING
A solo exhibition by Ruth Ige
The Silence Before the Morning is a solo exhibition of works by abstract-figurative painter, Ruth Ige. Void of identifiers of time and place, this body of work depicts a new space which is both ambiguous and complex. As author of this environment, Ige works to reconsider and dismantle the rules of our known world, creating a new space for her figures to inhabit.
The Silence Before the Morning is a body of paintings (predominantly on canvas). Non-representational forms populate the surfaces alongside isolated figures in reflection and conferring duos. This is the first time Ige has placed more than one figure in one work, a development of sorts in her practice. The co-existing figures bring another element to the body of work, bringing with them the idea that quietness and reflection are not always experienced in solitude. The Silence Before the Morning in fact may often be experienced alongside another.
Seductive and enigmatic, Ige draws the viewer in to an intimate world which brims with story in the form of fictional narratives. Representative of a shared experience as opposed to an individual, these blank-faced figures imbue a sense of empowerment and collectivism.
Flat, and in many instances larger than life, Ige’s figures are also consistently painted in the colour black. As an artist who is Nigerian, Ige’s experience of being black in Aotearoa (alongside the collective experience of people of colour) has informed her practice in a deep and direct way. In discussing her work, Ruth (2017) states:
The tension and censorship of self that occurs when a person of colour encounters a place and space where they are the unfamiliar or the minority and how their treatment in the public creates a need for a space for reflection, empowerment and self-care. These are the spaces I create within my painting.
Ige navigates the stereotypes fashioned to define African people by depicting black people as protagonists in her narratives. Ige harnesses control over how and where these figures are represented and placed which is further conveyed through her select palette.
Using a palette comprised predominantly of carbon black, ivory black, Payne’s grey, and various tones of blue, Ige’s palette illustrates restraint, thoughtfulness and skill. The sparing use of antique white provides tonal diversity throughout the work and situates the figure in an environment of colour which is not dissimilar to the figure itself. This confident decision by Ige illustrate her process as a painter, whereby she consistently seeks an alignment between her message and aesthetic values.
Alongside the figurative forms found within Ige’s works, several other abstract forms exist throughout, such as a loose S. Atop the shoulder of Untitled 2 and The song, the melody, a painterly form writhes near to the head of the sitter whilst a rounder form rests upon the opposing shoulder. Interestingly, these ambiguous forms only find homes upon sole figures. On asking Ige, these forms not only represent internal dialogue but also contribute to the other-worldly aspect of Ige’s practice, whilst giving life to the still figures.
Ige highlights common modes of interaction which she see’s as problematic. She achieves this by allowing the viewer a glimpse of her inner-most world, a fictional narrative which provides an alternative perspective to our reality.
Ige moved from Botswana, to Aotearoa in 2003. In 2016 Ige completed a Bachelor of Visual Arts through Auckland University of Technology. Over the past two years, Ige has shown works at RM Gallery (2017), Artspace (2017), the Vivian (2018) and Liste Art Fair Basel, Switzerland (2018).