Nnena Kalu

Nnena Kalu

25 April – 2 June 2024

Opening reception: 25 April 2024, 12 – 6pm

An ode to gesture, line, colour and form, this presentation of new work by Nnena Kalu exemplifies the artist’s unique fascination with and commitment to materiality and process.

Working predominantly in drawing, sculpture and installation, Nnena Kalu’s prolific practice spans over two decades, with the past five years seeing the artist begin to receive the critical acclaim her practice has long deserved.

Repetition is the driving force behind Kalu’s work. Ambitious explorations of space, texture and scale, Kalu’s voracious sculptures hang heavy with the muscle memory of her methodical process of packing, wrapping and binding. Starting with tightly packed bundles of colourful textile, paper and cellophane, Kalu grows and builds her forms, wrapping and assembling them with layers upon layers of colourful tape, plastic, paper, fabric, string and reems of unspooled VHS tape. Kalu continually and iteratively returns to her sculptures, working and reworking them, often taking old works to reform anew.

Kalu’s sculptures explode and invade the spaces they occupy, as was the case in her major presentations with Studio Voltaire in 2020 (where she has held a studio and has been supported by ActionSpace since 1999) and the Royal Academy’s 2021 Summer Exhibition. Here, in a new presentation style, Kalu’s chrysalis-like sculptures quite literally hang heavy. Her voluminous, bulbous bodily forms are suspended overhead in the gallery for the first time, imposing from above like overripe fruit.

Kalu’s practice fosters a radical parity between process and product, between production and presentation and between the artist’s body and its output. 

– Dr Maggie Matić

Nnena Kalu (b. 1966, Glasgow) lives and works in London, UK. Recent exhibitions include Infinite Drawing, Deptford X, London, UK (2022); Studio Voltaire elsewhere, London, UK (2020); Wrapping, Humber Street Gallery, East Yorkshire, UK (2019); Allied Editions, House of Voltaire, Frieze, London, UK (2022), To all the Kings who have no Crowns, Carl Freedman Gallery, Margate, UK (2022). Kalu’s works are a part of the Tate Collection (UK), and the Arts Council Collection (UK).