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EMILE GUEBEHI  /  SCULPTURE  /  January 7, 2005 – February 5, 2005  /

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Installation View, 2005

The Jack Shainman Gallery is proud to present Sculpture by Emile Guebehi. Guebehi, a sculptor working in Abidjan, Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire), creates dramatic, life-sized figurative sculptures that are boldly colored in glossy enamel paint. Like his contemporary Malick Sidibé (both are 73), Geubehi has been witness to the dramatic and ongoing changes of the past half-century in his country and confronts and expresses these experiences in his latest work.
Addressing the role of traditional African myth in contemporary culture, Guebehi’s sculptures capture the ongoing tensions between Africa and the West that continue to animate everyday life in Abidjan. The work also functions as a powerful metaphor for the individual struggles of women in the patriarchal societies of West Africa. It is an explicit political commentary on the continuing persistence of African cultural traditions in the face of the devouring Western influence. One sculpture depicts a husband about to slaughter his illegitimate, light skin child perhaps at an attempt to eliminate the West.
Many of the Emile Guebehi’s sculptures exaggerate the maternal and procreative role of women. The sculptures also include strong elements of sexuality, a still largely taboo subject in the Ivory Coast. Many of these works can be seen to reside within the continuum of traditional fertility figures that proliferated in the early days of colonial rule as both an element of spiritual resistance against the deprivations imposed by the new rulers. At the same time the sculptures depicting women at a larger scale then man, with large oversized breasts, and as a Queen also address the important and changing role of women in the Ivory Coast.
Guebehi works in Abidjan in an outdoor workshop with his sons as his apprentices. His work was first seen in New York paired with Malick Sidibé at Deitch Projects in 1999. This exhibition will once again pair these two contemporary masters emphasizing their differences where their previous pairing sought to highlight their similarities.
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