STEVENSON is pleased to present Freedom's recurring dream, an exhibition of new paintings by Ruth Ige. This is the Nigeria-born, New Zealand-based artist’s first solo exhibition with the gallery, following her participation in the group show my whole body changed into something else in Cape Town in 2021. She writes:
In a place between two dimensions, I saw freedom personified. I saw that, in both her waking and sleeping, she would have recurring dreams and visions – dreams of liberation, hope, wonder, sorrow, joy and justice. A mothering entity, I could see her watching, hoping and longing for the best for the black diaspora and black individuals in their navigation of life. Her heart ached as she saw the injustice inflicted through the ages. I saw her cheering and rising to her feet when she witnessed movements of resistance. She would wail and grieve like a mother who lost her child every time a black life was lost or wrongly taken. She would visit people in the night through their dreams, giving words of encouragement, but also ideas and tools to fight against systems of oppression. At times she would appear as an apparition of light and wrap her arms around those who were disheartened. She would give spiritual gifts shaped like flowers and bestow mantels of blessings on those who needed them.
I imagine her still waiting, hoping for her dreams to come to pass. These paintings are from her perspective. They are a small glimpse into her inner world. Mostly portraits – through her eyes – of how she views these figures. Through her gaze of upliftment, empathy, compassion and sorrow these paintings are formed.
This is also an exploration of the many facets and expressions of freedom within the black community across the world. The need for freedom that has been fought for throughout the decades. The recurrence of that dream appearing over and over again throughout history. That dream manifesting itself in movements, communities, people, ideas and creativity.
These paintings explore the long-held tradition of black imagination and black speculative fiction as an access point of emancipation, and its importance as a tool of healing, escape, resistance, empowerment and self-care. This body of work is a love letter to the black diaspora.
A dream of the great day of unity
In the cool of the day
like sounds of chimes
and birds flying above walls and mountains
the sound of strong wind rushing
through leaves and angel wings
there appeared a great sight
a great light
hovering above the fields of flowers
I saw a family gathered
with skin of midnight
like an onyx stone
glimmering in the moonlight
more than the oceans and seas
black hues and golden streams
from different times and places
All there together
Being held by the light
Ige was born in 1992 in Nigeria, and lives and works in Auckland, New Zealand. She graduated with a Bachelor of Visual Arts from the Auckland University of Technology in 2016.
Solo exhibitions include Between Two Dimensions at Roberts Projects, Los Angeles (2022); The poetic notions of blue at McLeavey Gallery, Wellington (2021); and A Place Apart, a two-person show at City Gallery, Wellington (2020). She has participated in group exhibitions at Stevenson, Cape Town (2021); McLeavey Gallery, Wellington (2020); Karma, New York (2019); ST PAUL St Gallery, Auckland (2019); The Vivian, Matakana (2018); and Artspace, Auckland (2017).
The exhibition opens on Saturday 27 August, 10am to 1pm.