Artist Zak Ové’s 80 identical graphite figures at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park


Yorkshire Sculpture Park welcomed an extraordinary assembly of 80 sculptures by British-Trinidadian artist Zak Ové. Black and Blue: The Invisible Man and the Masque of Blackness, a mass of identical two-metre-tall figures, creates a striking statement within the Park’s 18th century landscape. Powerful and totemic, the impact of the group is amplified through their repeated forms, facing forward to confront the viewer en masse.

Ové says he seeks to “reignite and reinterpret lost culture using new-world materials, whilst paying tribute to both spiritual and artistic African identity”. In this work, he uses graphite to explore what he describes as “future world black”. The artist is constantly seeking ways to express recognisable, traditional African forms whilst avoiding the predictable use of ebony, and exploring the sculptural possibilities of more contemporary materials, such as plastic. The form of the figure on which Black and Blue: The Invisible Man and the Masque of Blackness is based is a small dark wood sculpture given to him as a child by his father, acclaimed filmmaker Horace Ové, in the 1970s. The way in which the original sculpture has travelled across land and time, has been adapted and re-shaped, thereby acquiring new layers of meaning, is a metaphor for the complexities of contemporary identity. Although the gesture is taken from a traditional, existing form, the raised hands resonate with and reference current tensions and the Black Lives Matter protest movement.