Michael Sayles
Nommo (African Reliquary Replicate #2), 2012

  • Graphite on paper and metal button
  • 120 x 76 cm
  • Acquired in 2013
  • Drawing London Series

In Nommo (African Reliquary Replicate # 2), 2012, a surrogate latex fist is seamlessly transplanted as the arm extension of a fertility Dogon divinity, a metallic button in the guise of an eye emphasizing the resemblance with Darth Vader, Star Wars’ villain. The severe formal contrasts of the drawing, the use of black and white, emphasize the evocation of typified Sado-Masochism or dual slave-master bond.Based on tribal African artifacts of the Dogon pantheon, a complex and ancestral mythology from the South of Mali, this stylized humanoid creature is fitted with elements of the S&M paraphernalia, which the artist has experienced in Berlin’s notorious sub-culture.

Michael Sayles’ series of ethnological drawings must be understood within a larger multi-media corpus of works, which explores ongoing notions of identity and self-representation. He studied in the context of the then upcoming Young British Artists scene in John Stezaker’s class at London Central Saint Martin, where early on he determined an intuitive sense of collage and precise rendering. Michael Sayles’ painstaking large format graphite drawings on paper are based on ethnological iconography morphed with contemporary fetish objects.

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