Nigerian-American artist Dozie Kanu on encountering a sculpture by Scott Burton: “it solidified the idea that I could make work that existed within the context of art without it being marginalised as design,” he says
This article is taken from the Autumn/Winter 2022 issue of AnOther Magazine:
“I encountered Scott Burton’s work through an exhibition held at Kasmin Gallery in New York in 2015. When I walked in, a gallery representative was sitting on one of the pieces, Rock Chair  – a huge boulder that had been cut with such precision to carve out a little seat. What was shocking is that her sitting on it didn’t take anything away from my experience of that show as art. That was an important moment for me – it solidified the idea that I could make work that existed within the context of art without it being marginalised as design. I’m always trying to blur the categories. Think about what people deem African sculpture – it’s actually African design. These artefacts had spiritual functions within the communities they were extracted from. They weren’t made for pure contemplation, but they can be contemplated. How do you make a work that can exist in both worlds without one overpowering the other? That’s what I am trying to do.”
It’s not uncommon to walk into a Dozie Kanu exhibition and find “someone taking a Zoom call on one of the stools or lying on the floor reading a book”, the Nigerian-American artist says. His confrontational, intractable objects straddle the boundaries of fine art, functional furniture and sculpture with an unlikely ease, the works inviting visitors to spend time on and around them. In the vast warehouse where he lives and works in the Portuguese countryside, Kanu has found a kind of freedom from the expectations of the industry. This autumn, pieces made there will appear at Neuer Essener Kunstverein in Essen and Galerie Francesca Pia in Zurich. Feel free to take a seat.
This story features in the Autumn/Winter 2022 issue of AnOther Magazine, which is on sale internationally now. Buy a copy here.