Fabienne Lévy

Ekene Emeka Maduka

The Tortoise and the Birds


oil on canvas

121.92 x 91.44 cm

RESERVED, 15’000 CHF excl. taxes
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Ekene Emeka-Maduka explores the dream realm as a waiting room: a state of skewed reality, reconstructed and redefined. A complex space where the dreamer has no control of his or her physical body; yet other palpable elements are present and control certain aspects of this alternative space in which the dreamer is immersed. The Tortoise and the birds (2021) alludes to an old Nigerian Igbo tale Ekene Emeka-Maduka heard while growing up. Known in Igbo as Ufere or Ifo, these stories told under moonlight carry multiple meanings to awake children’s imaginations and teach them about morals and principles. The tale of the Tortoise and the Birds is an allegory of warning towards the unknown and recounts how unfamiliarity often drives to cautiousness and fear. In L’interpretation des reves dans la region Sénégambienne suivi de la clef des songes de la Sénégambie, de L'Egypte pharaonique et de la tradition Islamique (1998) by Djibril Samb, the author contends that "The dream guides African life". Emeka-Maduka ponders the question: “As an African living in this post-colonial present, how does one navigate the semiotics of African life with little or no knowledge of it?” and “are some nightmares worth giving a double take to allow better understanding?”. In Ekene’s "dreams", the artist often embodies the physique of a being she does not know. She questions whether it is her that she sees represented, wandering versions of past selves trying to connect with the body of the sleeper, or perhaps distant relatives and travelers. ‘’What if they were setting out on a trip, they could never fully continue for lack of knowledge needed to walk the road ahead? The ability to decode the multitude of images and signs is a mystery waiting to be explored.” Emeka-Maduka uses personal symbolism from the Igbo traditional cosmology, associating fiction and academic speculation in her vivid paintings to confront perspectives and invite numerous interrogations.

Fabienne Lévy
Fabienne Levy
Avenue Louis-Ruchonnet 6
1003 Lausanne
Tel. 43 21 711 43 20

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