Zak Ové works with sculpture, film, and photography to explore African identity, the African diaspora, and African history. His work builds on his own experience of growing up in a mixed-race family in both London and Trinidad. Through his sculptural figures, which are concocted from a dynamic assortment of materials and resemble African and Trinidadian statuary, Ové plays with notions of identity, positing the self as complex, open, and interconnected.
Ové also draws inspiration from Trinidad carnival — a tradition started by French immigrants in the 18th century as an elaborate masquerade ball and later influenced by the transatlantic slave trade. 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 2015, he became the first Caribbean artist to be commissioned by the British Museum. His pair of seven-metre high Moko Jumbie sculptures were exhibited in the Great Court before being permanently installed in the museum’s Africa gallery in 2017.