‘Real Life is Fragile’ is a special group show bringing together ten creatives from West Africa. Curated in co-operation with artist Ken Nwadiogbu, this exhibition serves as a spotlight to help expose just a fraction of the amazing talent coming out of West Africa, in particular the countries of Nigeria and Cameroon. The artists featured offer a vast array of visual languages, all coming together to tell their stories in unique ways.
Featuring new works from: Ayanfe Olarinde, Boris Anje, Chigozie Obi, Eshinlokun Wasiu, Elizabeth Ekpetorson, Jimbo Lateef, Ken Nwadiogbu, Michelle Okpare, Patrick Akpojotor, Yusuff Aina Abogunde.
‘Real Life Is Fragile’ On view July 3 – July 10 in our main gallery
Opening Reception: Saturday, July 3 from 5-9pm
This July at Thinkspace Projects, in the West Adams district of Los Angeles, we are honored to host a special group show bringing together ten creatives from West Africa. Curated in co-operation with artist Ken Nwadiogbu, this exhibition serves as a spotlight to help expose just a fraction of the amazing talent coming out of West Africa, in particular the countries of Nigeria and Cameroon. The artists featured offer a vast array of visual languages, all coming together to tell their stories in unique ways.
We normally take a small break in the summertime, but as we reflected back on the past 18 months we realized we’ve already had too much downtime and that this break in our program could be better spent highlighting some of the many incredible artists we’ve been exposed to since hosting Ken Nwadiogbu’s debut North American solo exhibition earlier this year.
This one-week only showcase will be open daily for all to come by and enjoy. We will be working with many of the featured artists further in 2021 and beyond, with Boris Anje returning this November for his debut North American solo exhibition.
“Really humbled to have been part of the curatorial process of ‘Real life is Fragile’ exhibition. Featuring amazing African artists who continue to evolve their art and share the narrative of the fragile world we live in.“ – Ken Nwadiogbu
Featuring new works from:
Ayanfe Olarinde Boris Anje Chigozie Obi Eshinlokun Wasiu Elizabeth Ekpetorson Jimbo Lateef Ken Nwadiogbu Michelle Okpare Patrick Akpojotor Yusuff Aina Abogunde
Ayanfee Olarinde bio: Born in 1996, Ayanfe Olarinde is a self-trained visual artist currently employing scribbling techniques as well as photography in creating intricately detailed and multi-layered images. In 2018, she graduated from the university of Lagos with a BSc in Microbiology.
In her work, Olarinde explores and drives conversation around self image, identity formation, social reality, collective history and mental health while probing popular culture and the inefficiencies of the government in contemporary society. Drawing from imperfections in her personal, continuous journey for acceptance, Olarinde’s engagement with the scribbling technique serves as a way to interrogate emotion while also exploring fluidity in form. Working across various media including ink, acrylics, wire and found objects she creates richly textured drawings, paintings, collages and sculptures engaging with personal history and experiences in her artistic journey. As an evocative artist influenced by her passage through life, her oeuvre has evolved to include works in photography and digital art. She is particularly interested in exploring conceptual photography as a tool for understanding the psychology of her subjects.
Boris Anje (aka Anjel) bio:
Boris Anje (aka Anjell was born in 1993 in Bamenda, Cameroon and is known for his lively Neo-Pop Art paintings of contemporary African dandies. Working from hand-picked photos of stylish young men and women, Anjel modifies their outfits by changing the colors and textures, alters the light sources to deepen the shadows and heighten the reflections, and contextualizes his striking black subjects in the realms of global consumerist culture and African symbolism.
“I want to give value to the black body,” Anjel declared from his studio in the Cameroon coastal city of Douala. “I’m trying to give some kind of attention, some kind of attraction, to the person of color.”
New to Anjel’s recent body of work is his use of symbols from the Adinkra alphabet, which is a contemporary way of writing some of the languages spoken in Ghana and Ivory Coast, including Akan, Dagbani, Ewe and Ga. The Adinkra symbols are sometimes utilized in the logo designs of entrepreneurial brands, where the symbols are used to represent sayings, proverbs or concepts, such as wisdom, strength, unity, wealth, love and peace.
Chigozie Obi bio:
Chigozie Obi (b. 1997 Nigeria) is a multi-dimensional visual artist who obtained a bachelors degree of Visual Arts from the Creative Arts department, University of Lagos in 2017. Her work is consistent in the use of vibrant colors and figures to portray emotions and stories formed from personal/shared experiences and focuses on the representation of Black people in their diversity.
Her work has been featured in several group exhibitions and she was one of the recipients of the inaugural Tilga Fund for Arts Grant (2020) and the Art.ng Grant for Visual Artists (2020), one of the nominees for The Future Awards Prize For Art (2020), one of the shortlisted artists for The Alpine Fellowship Art Prize (2020) and recently concluded her residency with Bethany Arts Community, New York, USA (2020).
Her work authenticates her keen interest for the human aspect of life, the body, beauty standards and the strive for self-acceptance. She aims to create sustained conversations about people and society – the cultural narratives adopted and how it affects people in it, especially women.
Elizabeth Ekpetorson bio:
Eleez Chioma Ekpetorson (b. 1991 Nigeria) is a non-binary artist from Nigeria, and holds a painting degree from the University of Port Harcourt. After an internship with the Universal Studios of Art in Lagos, Nigeria, Ekpetorson is now pursuing her independent practice. Her figurative work is about self-acceptance, embracing one’s self unconditionally, without fear or exception. In telling her story, a large portion of her work is dedicated to the struggles of being a woman in this modern age, emboldening them through her art. Ultimately her work is about humanity and letting every human be able to breathe and let go of any prejudices that they may encounter.
Eshinlokun Wasiu bio:
Eshinlokun Wasiu (b. 1998, Lagos, Nigeria) is a full time surrealist artist who sees life’s challenges as a tool for creating his masterpieces. And has been prolific in producing works that speak about the society and its effect on the people around. Culture, identification and power of humanity are a few aspects of his current research and artistic practice.
Eshinlokun Wasiu studied Business Administration at Yaba College of Education, Nigeria. His interest in art, as well as his career began while he was a kid with the support of his mother. Inspired by issues relating to him and those who are around him, he began creating works that reflect the everyday struggles of people, with the hopes of making a change in people life and way of thinking. He exercises himself by using of charcoal and acrylic paints to create silhouette that seem to have been in bond and value.
Eshinlokun is reintroducing the “ Surrealism “ movement in a way the world will appreciate in a different form. His also part of the title deed art collective curated by Ken Nwadiogbu 2019/2020. Also had a residency at AAF ( African Artists’ Foundation ) in the year 2020 Eshinlokun Wasiu is constantly revitalizing his practice by challenging modes of Black representation. His oeuvres do not just encompass various forms of drawing using acrylic and charcoal, but most recently transcends into photography, sculpture, installation and performance art.
Jimbo Lateef bio:
Jimbo Lateef is a Nigerian Visual Artist from Lagos, Nigeria (b.1999). He studied Art at Yaba College of Technology.
Lateef explore using modern calligraphy also known as contemporary calligraphy to represent his subject as an identity and style in art ranges from functional inscriptions and designs to fine-art pieces where the letters may or may not be readable, in my own aspect is not readable, it just a design that’s represents the forms of the subject.
Ken Nwadigobu bio:
Ignited by Trompe L’oeil, self-taught Nwadiogbu submerged himself in technique and skill in order to rise as a prominent artist in the Nigerian Hyperrealist movement. Nwadiogbu is constantly revitalising his practice by challenging modes of Black representation. He received his degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Lagos, Nigeria and continues to live and works as a full-time artist in Lagos, Nigeria. Nwadiogbu has been featured on CNN, BBC, and in Juxtapoz, Guardian, Wired, and Afro Punk.
By recreating his own realities as a young Nigerian, his work projects the experiences encountered by black lives around the globe. Nwadiogbu invokes a humanist connection to the ongoing issues of police brutality, racism, xenophobia, culture conflict and shock. Working with charcoal and acrylic he creates a hyperrealist narrative that demands socio-political thought and discourse, bringing the ideology full circle by emphasizing an understanding that we are more alike than different.
Michelle Okpare bio:
Michelle Okpare (b.1996) raised between Nigeria and Ivory Coast. She is a Nigerian artist who received her B.A in Fine Arts from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria.
Okpare draws inspiration from her personal experiences and relationships with people. And, how one responds psychologically to happenings. Her works are a documentation of her life, feelings, complexity, and emotions exploring culture, mental health, personal and societal identity, and issues surrounding gender in African contemporary society.
Okpare is an expressionist artist working predominantly using crepe paper and discarded lace fabrics. Her usage of lace fabric is symbolic to her culture and traditions. Her choice of materials is attached to her childhood experience in Ivory Coast, she grew up creating flowers on Mother’s Day. Employing collaging and traditional painting techniques. She produces richly textured and layered paintings.
Okpare has participated in several exhibitions all over the world including She Impressions, South Africa, 2019, The Human Experience, South Africa, 2020, Liminality in Infinite Space, Nigeria, 2020.
Her work has also been featured on Sunday Times South Africa, Shoutout Los Angeles, Times Live South Africa, TVC News connect, Nigeria and Airmail News USA. She was documented as an innovative artist who creates luxury art out of recycled materials on Google Arts and Culture. She was awarded for the Online Art Project Turkey and The University of Florida Art in Medicine project in Nigeria.
Okpare currently lives and works in Lagos, Nigeria.
Patrick Akpojotor bio:
Patrick Akpojotor’s (b. 1982 Nigeria) work captures the heart of traditional, colonial, and contemporary architecture scattered across the Lagos cityscape. He creates anthropomorphic buildings with distinct personalities and attitudes, exploring how the built environment influences our sense of identity. His brightly colored canvases and detailed pencil sketches portray surreal staircases, windows, and the walls of imagined spaces which personify emotionally complex characters.
Akpojotor studied fine art at the Federal Polytechnic, Auchi, and graphic design at the Lagos State Polytechnic, Ikorodu. Akpojotor has received numerous awards including the first ArtXLagos Prize for emerging artists in 2016. Akpojotor had his solo exhibition “IF WALLS COULD SPEAK” in 2019. He has participated in several group exhibititions and workshops as a participant and a facilitator.
Patrick Akpojotor lives and works in Lagos, Nigeria.
Yusuff Aina Abogunde bio:
Yusuff is a fast rising contemporary artist, born in 1997, in the state of Lagos, Nigeria where he currently resides. His artistic education in fine and applied arts was attained at the Federal College of Education, Akota, Lagos.
Yusuffs’ artistic practice is multidisciplinary; he is a painter, sculptor, digital/virtual arts. He calls his style of art “Ainaism”. Yusuff employs surreal figurative paintings in the style of pop art with motion lines to capture the struggles associated with the character “Eni-Yan”, who is always present in his works.
Eni-yan is a character Yusuff uses “to strip off the identity of a person, by using one face to represent all humans, as a symbol of unity and togetherness. Eni-yan is used to represent humans and our struggle”. The face of Eni-yan is inspired from sculptural wooden and metallic masks that have been present in different African cultures for centuries to millennium.
On view: March 6, 2021 – March 27, 2021 | Schedule your visit here.
EXCERPT FROM KEN NWADIOGBU INTERVIEW
What is the inspiration behind this latest body of work? What themes were you exploring?
These works were created between 2020 to 2021. The question was: what did it feel like to be Nigerian during this time and what do I think we can do to make it better.
I experienced a lot of threatening events around me and could connect it with what was happening around the world. The hatred, the war, division and violence. I got really interested in making direct statements through my works concerning this. This gave rise to UBUNTU, an African philosophy made popular by Late Nelson Mandela. The philosophy of togetherness. “I am because we are”. I believe there’s a lot of good we can do if we are United.
What is the inspiration behind this latest body of work? What themes were you exploring?
I’ve been learning and trying to incorporate my own culture into my work more. I moved to the United States when I was eleven. I stopped learning Japanese language, culture and history since then, instead, I tried to focus on learning English and American culture to fit in. Growing up in the United States made me question my existence, ethnicity and culturally more, and I was often being asked “which country is home to you?,” which troubled me a lot.
Now I am in my mid-thirties, looking back on all the work I made and working through many hours of psychoanalysis, that question no longer troubles me anymore, but it rather made me curious about my own existence, concentrating on being alive and what to look forward to in the future.