Ranti Bam: Anima

James Cohan, New York, United States
17 May 2024 - 26 Jul 2024

Installation view, Ranti Bam, Anima, James Cohan, 291 Grand St, New York, NY, May 17 - July 26, 2024

Installation view, Ranti Bam, Anima, James Cohan, 291 Grand St, New York, NY, May 17 - July 26, 2024

James Cohan presents Anima, an exhibition of ceramic sculptures by British-Nigerian artist Ranti Bam, on view from May 17 through July 26, 2024, at 291 Grand Street. This marks the artist’s first solo exhibition with the gallery and her New York debut. The gallery will host an opening reception on Friday, May 17 from 5-7 PM and an exhibition walkthrough with Bam on Saturday, May 18 at 2 PM.

Ranti Bam engages with the feminine; confronting notions of fragility, vulnerability, and care. Her recent practice explores multivalent concepts of anima–which in Latin represents the soul and in Jungian philosophy is defined as the feminine spirit tied to emotion, empathy, and sensitivity rooted in the unconscious. Bam creates clay forms that embody this life force in two related bodies of work: abstract vessels and Ifas.

In Anima, the artist draws inspiration from the symbolic amalgamation of Eden and Hieronymus Bosch’s painting, The Garden of Earthly Delights, building a sculptural world that reimagines Eve as prima materia—the primal feminine. The abstract vessels are constructed with thin slabs of overlapping earthenware and are often supported by legs, while others are grounded flat. Using the language of gestural painting, the artist works with slip—a pigmented liquid clay—to rub and transfer painted sheets of paper onto the surfaces of her vessels, as well as painting directly onto the slabs. Her intuitive use of color is influenced by the exuberance of her West African Yoruba heritage, as well as the palette of Bosch’s Garden. Bam occasionally punctures her intricately patterned surfaces to reveal their glossy interiors, inviting the audience closer.

Interspersed throughout the gallery and perched on stools, the artist’s meditative Ifas reference the body and ritual practice. The torso-length vessels are shaped by the artist’s physical embrace. These forms subsequently pucker, crack, and sometimes collapse in on themselves during the firing process; a compelling metaphor for fragility. The Ifas are rendered in raw earth-toned stoneware and terracotta, some a copper color, rich with red iron oxide and others stone, ashy gray, and deep charcoal black. Ifa in Yoruba means both (ifá): divination and (I –fàá): to pull close, reflecting on the transformation from pure material to states of expression. The stools that the vessels rest upon, known as akpoti, are integral to indigenous life and are used to facilitate spiritual and material sustenance; rest and communal gathering. Bam symbiotically fuses these supports with the vessels, presenting her Ifas as votive offerings or portals to another sphere.

Through her work in clay, Bam searches for a new state of consciousness, one that is unbound. Her colorful abstract vessels and corporeal Ifas emit an interior spirit that encourages public contemplation and invites us to embrace vulnerability.




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