The proof, an undersea volcano, extraction, attraction, distraction, 2017
View from Atlantis, 2015
thread, ink, graphite on tracing paper
Lagoons and Lagoons and Lagoons, 2021
thread, ink, graphite, collage on tracing paper
Courtesy the artist & Fridman Gallery, New York
The watery expanse between Africa and the Americas forever defines my aesthetic landscape. It is one of history, memory, separation and loss.
Wura-Natasha Ogunji’s lyrical and seductive works are created using Iine, thread, graphite and ink on layers of architectural tracing paper. She is continually manipulating and experimenting with her material, incising and stitching through the paper so that the works become both physically and conceptually layered. Her figures that twist, dive and fall are composites of photographs of her deceased father, experiments with her own body, and iconic Nigerian imagery such as the bronze heads found at Ife, the legendary homeland of the Yoruba people.
Water, and particularly the Atlantic Ocean with its history as a passage for slave trading between Africa and the Americas, influence her works in both concept and composition: ‘I often think about what’s happening below the water, the depth, what’s under and what’s carried and balance – what’s happening on either side of the sea.’
For the artist, the paper becomes ocean, an open waterscape with the movement of bodies between its edges. She often exchanges completed panels with others so that the end of something – a line, a limb – becomes the beginning of something else: a visual loop. There is a sense of things meeting each other, passing each other, connecting and disconnecting. With a background in cinema, for Ogunji the paper’s translucence is reminiscent of film, and she compares each panel and each drawing to a filmic cell, one portion of a larger story.
The presentation of Wura-Natasha Ogunji at the 23rd Biennale of Sydney, rīvus, was made possible with the generous support of Andrew Cameron AM and Cathy Cameron.