Kongo Nail Power Figure, Democratic Republic of the Congo
- wood, metal
Mourtala Diop (Touba M'Backe Gallery), New York
Allan Stone, New York
S2 Gallery, Sotheby's New York, Hunters and Gatherers: The Art of Assemblage, November 18 - December 16, 2011
Kevin D. Dumouchelle, Power Incarnate: Allan Stone's Collection of Sculpture from the Congo, Greenwich, Connecticut, 2011, p. 30, cat. 6
Lisa Dennison and Adam Gopnick (eds.), Hunters and Gatherers: The Art of Assemblage, New York, 2011, p. 100-101
The sophisticated sculptural conception of the body can still be seen beneath the accumulation of metal and by viewing the figure from behind; arched arms separate from the body and the hands reconnect on either side of the abdomen. The spine is shown as a subtle curved groove running down the center of the back, and massive hips and thighs lift the torso above remarkably narrow, delicate lower legs punctuated by carved representations of flaring anklets.
The ovoid head bears delicately-sculpted features in low relief, including a raised band of facial hair, or perhaps scarification, curling up the cheeks from the corners of the mouth, reflecting the arch of the eyebrows. At the proper left temple, and presumably also previously on the now-damaged right temple, is a diamond-shaped geometric grid of scarification, of a design frequently seen in Kongo art. Additions of magic materials cover abraded areas of the nose, proper right eyebrow, and upper lip. The fleshy parted lips reveal finely carved teeth exposed in an active, confrontational guesture, and plated metal eyes give the figure an alert, commanding expression.