Museum  July 29, 2019

LACMA Presents Zak Ové’s First Solo Exhibition in Los Angeles

© Zak Ové, courtesy Modern Forms, Vigo gallery, the artist and YSP, photo © Jonty Wilde

Zak Ové, The Invisible Man and the Masque of Blackness, 2016, installation view, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Yorkshire, UK, 2016–17

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) presents The Invisible Man and the Masque of Blackness, marking the artist Zak Ové’s first solo exhibition in Los Angeles. Ové (b. 1966) is a British visual artist of Trinidadian descent who works in sculpture, film, and photography. His 40-piece sculptural installation The Invisible Man and the Masque of Blackness features a group of identical, 6 1/2-foot-tall reproductions of an African figure that the artist received as a gift from his father in his early childhood. Ové’s figures, fabricated from resin and graphite, hold their hands up at shoulder level in an act of quiet strength and resilience, and are spaced evenly in rows to ironically recall the formation of either a group soldiers or political dissidents.

The exhibition title references two milestones in black history: Ben Jonson’s 1605 play The Masque of Blackness, the first stage production to utilize blackface makeup, and Ralph Ellison’s 1952 novel Invisible Man, the first novel by an African American to win the National Book Award. In addition to literary references, the artist draws inspiration from Caribbean Carnival, a festival that originated in the Mardi Gras celebrations of the region’s French colonists, and Canboulay, a parallel celebration in which enslaved people expressed themselves through music and costume and paid homage to their African traditions. Overall, the sculpture encapsulates the complex history of racial objectification and the evolution of black subjectivity.

LACMA’s presentation will be the first time The Invisible Man and the Masque of Blackness is installed at an encyclopedic institution. On view in the museum’s B. Gerald Cantor Sculpture Garden, Ové’s figures will be brought together in conversation with 12 works by the French sculptor Auguste Rodin (1840–1917), which have been on display in the garden since 2009. The exhibition joins Mineo Mizuno: Harmony, on view August 10–November 11, 2019, on the Resnick East Lawn, and other permanent outdoor installations including Chris Burden’s Urban Light (2008), Robert Irwin’s Primal Palm Garden (2008), and Michael Heizer’s Levitated Mass (2012) in extending the museum’s gallery space beyond its walls, enriching the visitor’s experience.

The Invisible Man and the Masque of Blackness is curated by Jennifer Cernada, Curatorial Assistant, Contemporary Art at LACMA. Prior to the presentation at LACMA, the work was on view at Civic Center Plaza in San Francisco (June–November 2018).

© Zak Ové, courtesy Modern Forms, Vigo gallery, the artist and YSP, photo © Jonty Wilde

Zak Ové, The Invisible Man and the Masque of Blackness, 2016, installation view, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Yorkshire, UK, 2016–17

About Zak Ové
Zak Ové graduated with a BA in Film and Fine Art from the St. Martin’s School of Art, London in 1987. He has participated in numerous solo exhibitions including Star Liner, Lawrie and Shabibi, Dubai, 2018; Black and Blue: The Invisible Men and the Masque of Darkness, 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, Somerset House (Courtyard), London, 2016; Arms Around The Child, No.1 Mayfair London, 2014; Speaker, Vigo Gallery, London, 2013–14; Past Future, Fine Art Society, London, 2010; and Black & White Nudes, Carte Blanche Gallery, London, 2008.

In 2014 Ové became the first Caribbean artist to be commissioned by the British Museum, with his pair of seven-meter-high Moko Jumbie sculptures exhibited in the Great Court as part of the Celebrating Africa exhibition and now permanently installed in the museum’s Africa gallery.

Ové has participated in other museum and institutional shows including Reclamation! Pan-African Works from the Beth Rudin DeWoody Collection, Tubman Museum of Art, Virginia, 2018; Black and Blue: The Invisible Men and the Masque of Darkness, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield, 2017; Twice Is Too Much, The Freies Museum, Berlin, 2010; and Blue Devils, Real Art Ways Museum, Connecticut, 2009.

Ové’s works are in several collections including British Museum, London, UK; Newark Museum, New Jersey; Pérez Art Museum Miami, Florida; Modern Forms, London, UK; David Roberts Art Foundation, London, UK; Jameel Collection, Saudi Arabia; Facebook Corporate Collection, London, UK; 21 C Museum, Louisville, Kentucky; Beth De Woody Collection, New York; Walid Kamhawi Collection, Dubai, UAE; Frédéric de Goldschmidt, Brussels, Belgium; Levett Collection, London, UK; and the Pizzuti Collection, Columbus, Ohio.

The artist currently lives and works in London, United Kingdom, and Trinidad, Trinidad and Tobago.

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