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Founded in 1979, October Gallery, in central London, exhibits innovative, contemporary art from around the world. For over 35 years, October Gallery has pioneered the development of the Transvangarde - the trans-cultural avant-garde.

Current Exhibition

Naomi Wanjiku Gakunga, Bridges Not Walls, 2015.
Sheet metal, steel wire and poultry wire, 264 x 229 x 10 cm.
Tushauriane – Let’s Talk About It, 2013.
Sheet metal, steel wire and fabric, 229 x 214 cm.
Naomi Wanjiku Gakunga:
Tushauriane – Let’s Talk About It
18 May – 29 July 2017
October Gallery presents a new exhibition of works by Naomi Wanjiku Gakunga. This will be her second solo exhibition in London.

Born in Kenya in1960, Naomi Wanjiku Gakunga first studied art at the University

Gakunga’s works are predominantly wall-hanging sculptures ingeniously created from tin cans, steel wire and oxidised sheet metal. While the techniques Gakunga uses are common to the fibre arts across many traditions, her chosen materials are not; corroded sheet metal, rusted tin cans and stainless steel wire all follow the concept of Jua Kali, a Swahili adage which translates literally as ‘under the hot sun’ and refers to the serendipitous outcomes born out of discarded and weathered materials. Here, nothing goes to waste and what is considered unwanted material becomes the medium for a new focus of attention.

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Forthcoming Exhibition

Alexis Peskine, Oumy, 2016. Nails, moon gold leaf, mud, paint and varnish on samba wood, 250 x 250 x 50 cm.

Alexis Peskine, Mandjacko Souls, 2017. Nails, goldleaf and tint on wood, 132 x 93 x 15 cm.
ALEXIS PESKINE:
Power Figures
14 September – 21 October 2017
October Gallery presents a new exhibition of works by Alexis Peskine. This will be his first solo exhibition in London.

Early on Peskine was exposed to questions of identity with his mother coming from Bahia, Brazil, an area with a predominantly black population who struggle under a system designed to keep them from power, and his father the son of a Jewish refugee who fled from Russian persecution during the Second World War. Channelling this rich background through his work, he explores both the Black Experience and the world of the refugee, forced to exist between fixed boundaries of state and identity.

Growing up in Paris, Peskine speaks of witnessing institutional racism and a severe lack of multi-cultural representation in the media and public sphere. His practice, reflective of this, focuses on the complexity of themes impacting people from the African Diaspora. His signature pieces are large-scale portraits rendered by the painstaking process of hammering nails of different lengths and diameters, with pin-point accuracy into wood to create breath-taking composite images. The base of each work is made of wooden planks stained with coffee and earth giving a silhouette to each portrait. Then by embedding the differently sized nails at precisely controlled depths, Peskine creates a three-dimensional contouring to his images. Finally, gold and silver-leaf overlays colour the heads of the embedded nails, adding further subtle qualities to the intricately organised optical illusion.  

The use of metal hammered into wood as a primary medium makes conscious reference to the Minkisi “power figures” of the Congo Basin, those spiritually charged objects whose traditional function was to protect and ward off evil spirits. Peskine’s approach is conceptually charged, he adopts the use of the nail as an object, which holds this power and represents transcendence by its ability to perforate and destroy but also build and create. Often viewed as inconsequential and banal, the nail is a highly important device and by adorning it with metallic leaf Peskine gives it life, making it visibly significant, noble and resplendent. Metaphorically connecting the nail to the Black Experience, the figures he depicts portray strength, perseverance, self-possession, with an energy startlingly reminiscent of the power figures of the Congo.

Born in Paris, in 1979, Peskine obtained a BFA in Painting and Photography at Howard University, Washington, DC, an MA in Digital Arts at Maryland Institute College of Arts in Baltimore, and when awarded the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship, he continued at M.I.C.A. to complete a further MFA Degree. He has participated in many international fairs and exhibitions, including the 3rd Black Arts World Festival and the Dakar Biennale, Dakar, Senegal; Addis Foto Fest, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Frieze New York, Pulse Art Fair, New York, Miami Art Basel’s Prizm exhibit, Miami, USA; Biennale Internationale de Casablanca, Morocco; AKAA (Also Known As Africa) and Afriques Capitales, La Villette, Paris, France; and 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, London UK.


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Most Recent Exhibitions

El Anatsui, from the Eclipse Suite, 2016.
Intaglio print with collage and chine collé, 99 X 99 cm.
Photo: Oak Taylor-Smith.
Benchmarks:
New Prints by El Anatsui
6 April - 13 May 2017

October Gallery, London, is excited to announce the preview of a new body of print works by El Anatsui, Benchmarks, created in collaboration with Factum Arte, an extraordinary studio based in Madrid renowned for its synergy of past, present and future techniques. This will be the first presentation of this remarkable series.

Though globally-renowned for his iconic hangings of aluminium bottle-tops, Anatsui’s artistic practice has always been rooted in the discovery of new media. Having graduated from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana, the artist set about ‘forgetting everything (he) had been taught’ in  the search for new modes of expression, and the materials needed to convey them. Following the imperative that an artist should work ‘with whatever his environment throws up’, Anatsui created a wide variety of novel sculptural forms with materials that range from tropical hardwoods to cassava graters, driftwood, obituary printing plates and aluminium bottle-tops. His interest is in the physical history of the materials themselves, the stories they contain and the journeys that bring them into his hands. It was just such a remarkable journey that first led the artist to work with bottle-tops when he happened upon several bags of them lying discarded by a local liquor shop and found inscribed within a hidden history of trade in West Africa. At the age of 73, and after a fifty-year career, crowned with the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 56th Venice Biennale, Anatsui has found a new source of inspiration in the residual marks and traces of his own art practice and has poured all his energies into exploring these newfound possibilities.



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Brion Gysin, Untitled, Ink on paper, 108 x 102 cm.
Transvangarde 2017
2 February - 1 Apr 2017

October Gallery presents Transvangarde 2017, an exhibition of outstanding works by an international array of contemporary artists including, Tian Wei, Alexis Peskine, Govinda Sah ‘Azad’ and selected works by Brion Gysin and Kenji Yoshida amongst others. These artists, who have all migrated from one country to another, share their particular visions of the world by using their work to express their trans-cultural experiences. 

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Sylvie Franquet, Hitched to the Stars, 2014.Wool, acrylic and lurex on cotton canvas, 76 x 58 cm.
Sylvie Franquet, Hitched to the Stars, 2014.
Wool, acrylic and lurex on cotton canvas, 76 x 58 cm.

Sylvie Franquet, Run Ragged, 2016.
Akhmim (Egypt) cotton on wood and wire frame.
Body 185 cm high on a variable stand.
Photo © Jonathan Greet
Sylvie Franquet, Run Ragged, 2016.
Akhmim (Egypt) cotton on wood and wire frame.
Body 185 cm high on a variable stand.
Photo © Jonathan Greet

SYLVIE FRANQUET:
reMembering
1 December 2016 – 28 January 2017

October Gallery, London is excited to announce reMembering, an exhibition of new works by Sylvie Franquet. The artist’s first solo presentation will run from 1st December to 28th January.

Sylvie Franquet is a discovery. Born in Belgium, she read Arabic and Islamic Studies at Ghent and Cairo universities. Much of her life has been spent immersed in the Mediterranean world, reading, travelling widely throughout the region, and writing extensively on Middle Eastern culture. Out of this has come the unique artistic voice in reMembering, which layers word and image, ancient myth and everyday life, in textile, tapestries, collage and embroidered cloth dolls.

Franquet reworks found tapestries, showing a preference for those based on canonical works of art. She overlays these with further images and with found words from poets and thinkers, and text messages from friends. She cites Giacomo Leopardi’s Zibaldone da Pensiere, with its dense collation of thoughts, ephemera and philosophies, as influencing her approach. The laborious process of unpicking, repairing and reworking can take months, resulting in a metamorphosis achieved by the magic power of the needle.

Franquet’s work has been featured in Vogue and Elle, and her art was included in the critically-acclaimed exhibition More Material, curated by Duro Olowu at Salon 94 in New York. She also participated in the 2015 Féminin Pluriel exhibition at Fondation Dar Bellarj in Marrakech. The October Gallery exhibition will be her first major presentation, and the first public showing of the Poupées, spirit birds and The Wayward Sisters.


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October Gallery, 24 Old Gloucester Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1N 3AL Tel: + 44 (0)20 7242 7367