The Legion of Honor museum strikes hard for its reopening with an exceptional exhibition. The guest, Wangechi Mutu, is a Kenyan-born New York-based artist known for her hybrid sculptures and collage paintings. She presents her new exhibition I Am Speaking, Are You Listening?

legion of honor wangechiMore than just an exhibition, it is an unprecedented artistic experience that the museum offers to visitors by juxtaposing Mutu’s sculptures and the museum’s classic works such as Rodin’s.

It starts with the two bronze sculptures Shavasana I and II which lie at the foot of Rodin’s iconic Thinker in the museum courtyard. Puzzling and unsettling, these two statues set the tone for the exhibition like an invitation to lean, like the thinker, on these dead bodies. It’s a tribute to black women victims of murder and violence, in reference to the murder of Nia Wilson in Oakland’s Bart in 2018.

Two imposing statues – Crocodylus and Mama Ray, recent creations of Mutu, stand on either side of the courtyard as the guardians of the museum. Half-human, half-animal, these Afro-Futurist amazons open onto the fantastic world of Wangechi.

On the ground floor, it is the mysterious Water Woman who welcomes visitors in the rotunda – a magnificent black statue which revisits the myth of the western white mermaid.

The visitor then comes across the various pieces as he wanders throughout the museum since the works are distributed among the various neoclassical galleries, notably alongside the works of Rodin.

legion of honor wangechi mutu

photo Stephanie Ross

In each gallery, the contrast and the emotion are strong. The Sentinel IV, Dream Catcher and Rose Quartz sculptures are puzzling, both primitive thanks to the usage of organic materials – tree branches, earth, bone, hair – and terribly futuristic in their appearance. The mix of materials is also used in the artist paintings such as Ox Pecked, a sublime watercolor made of bird collages.

The Prayer installation in the main Rodin room, like the rest of the works, is a tribute to the Earth and to the power of women.

This exhibition is a magnificent introduction to the art of Wangechi, which aims to serve injustices and bring new codes of humanity.

Due to sanitary measures still in place, the number of visitors is limited and tickets must be purchased online by reserving a time slot.

Address: Legion of Honor Museum – Lincoln Park – 100, 34th Avenue, San Francisco
Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 9:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m.
Until November 7th, 2021
Book your tickets online, click here

by Stephanie Ross

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