Gor Soudan, (Kenyan b. 1983) Lives and works in Nairobi
Gor Soudan is a conceptual artist living and working in Kisumu and Nairobi. His practice incorporates drawing, sculpture, installation and ceremony to reflect on social relationships and interactions with the immediate environment, and how these relations transform both physical landscapes and inner-scapes of individual imagination and collective beliefs.
During his early career, he created installation sculptures in response to the 2007 civil conflicts in Kenya. Called ‘The Fire Next Time’, human torso forms woven from the charred wire from street protests reflected on the socio-political dynamics of human agency. His practice has evolved with a continued psycho-spatial exploration of mark making, inhabitation and cohabitation, more recently taking on an interactive and social approach. After research into Kenyan urban and Ethiopian traditional coffee networks, and material experimentation with coffee, he created a wandering coffee ceremony which was a platform for conversations about our relationships to land, food production, rural and urban cultures.
Since 2019, Soudan has been largely based in rural western Kenya where he is co-founding a communal art space embedded in a market garden and tree nursery, which will act as a centre for art within an agroforestry project. His current research is focused on the forms and materiality of handmade agricultural interventions in rural and urban landscapes, considering how such interventions affect our relationship with the environment and how nurturing plants reflects not only development of our imagination but also our overall communal development. As part of this research, he has been worked with a collective of basket weavers, studying traditional weaving forms and incorporating new media.
These ongoing ink drawings are part of a woven sculptures and installation project, initiated in late 2019 entitled,The Observatory. The drawings began as small landscape studies and developed into large conceptual drawings, which analyse patterns, art/craft forms and icons found in my natural and sometimes virtual environment; architecture, arts, crafts and symbols. In these places which I have dwelled in or travelled to (Kisumu, Nairobi, Lamu, Lagos, Tokyo, Yokohama, Sierra Leone, Kampala, Lagos etc.) I am relying on my first hand experiential exploration of these places, and analysing my internal mental landscape in an attempt to make sense of my space and time. Some of these patterns and symbols, e.g. Lamu door patterns, Ethiopian traditional crosses, emojis, signs and even particular hues of colours are superimposed within natural flora and fauna forms studied during an ongoing community art studio embedded within an agro-forestry project. This particular work attempts to provoke a sense of our micro and macro awareness of the present condition of the our world, the sense of working in a rural market garden environment, whilst also being part of a global artistic community. Moreover the drawing also alludes to ideas that our conception of the ‘glocal’ (local and global) environment as being the foundation of our internal concept of language, spirituality and science.
Soudan studied Sociology and Philosophy at Egerton University, Kenya and has had multiple solo exhibitions as well as group shows in Kenya, Sierra Leone, United Kingdom, Japan and Germany, including Kikulacho: Remains, waste and metonymy |||, Japanese Cultural Centre, Nairobi in 2018, Tokyo A La Carte, Tomio Kayama Gallery, Tokyo Japan, and Dust Sheet Embroided Snow, Project Gallery Arundel, United Kingdom and Gor Soudan, A Retrospective, Redhill Gallery, Limuru, Kenya in 2018. In 2014 he participated in Backers Residency, AIT in Tokyo Japan, and in 2017 he participated in the ICAF residency in Lagos, Nigeria. In 2022 Soudan was featured at 1-54 contemporary art fair with Circle Art Gallery in London to great success.