|a divine creature from Suzanne Wenger's last work (detail from Odi)|
The river Osun snakes its way through the grove, silently and somewhat lazily, conveying a deep sense of peace spiced-up by the appearance of the artworks hidden throughout the grove. A few are visible from the road that traverses the grove, but secrecy and mystery is essential to traditional spirituality, so many of them are in remote locations.
|Ogun riding on a lion|
On older works, especially remote ones buried in the lushness of the grove, moss is spreading on the curves of the sculptures. It conveys a frightening and yet fascinating appearance to the characters with disproportionately large bulging eyes, emaciated faces and pointed teeth. Mystical is perhaps the word to describe them.
|Odi, lost in the jungle|
I read that Suzanne was comfortable with the idea of decaying artwork going back to the origins of creation, concrete dust, rusted iron. The sculpture is in a state of advanced frailty through the assault of time, humidity and heat and yet very frightening like a bush of thorns from which, after a more detailed observation, bodies and faces of uninviting creatures emerge. Some part of concrete are falling apart only held up by iron wires until those too rust away. Time is ticking.
As the site is under Unesco listing, a team of local artists and craftmen is tasked to restore and expand the work initiated by Suzanne and her first husband Ulli Beier under what was coined New Sacred Art Movement. These artists are the survival link to preserve representations of the traditional Yoruba culture in the grove.
|creature from another world (detail from Odi)|