1:54 CONTEMPORARY AFRICAN ART FAIR
OCTOBER 16-20, 2013
From October 16 to 20, 2013, the Omenka Gallery will present Contemporary Realities, Shifting Identities as its presentation at the 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair in London. It will feature the work of 3 leading contemporary artists from Africa, J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere (b. 1930, Nigeria), Uche James-Iroha (b.1972, Nigeria) and Dominique Zinkpè (b. 1969, Benin Republic). The exhibition draws its title from the individual experiences of each artist and the particular socio-political realities of the countries they reside in. The artists are carefully selected from anglophone and francophone countries, a huge part of their differences arising from their varied colonial influences.
The 3 artists differ in their primary point of investigation. Among them, celebrated photographer, Ojeikere offers insight into Lagos society and its vibrant fashion scene. He draws attention to the creativity and opulence of social gatherings in Nigeria through the elaborate hair styles and head gears of women, created from expensive, imported textiles. Indeed, the history of these fabrics is not only tied to the complex web of trade and negotiation between Africa and the West, but is related to socio-political development in Nigeria’s recent past. During the oil boom, the outfits fashioned out of the embroideries were an expression of prosperity. Today, clothes produced from luxury fabrics such as lace define the image of the Nigerian and are considered as ‘traditional dress’, worn on special occasions and public functions by prominent people and politicians at home and abroad.
James-Iroha, a considerably younger Nigerian photographer explores the dark and unprogressive romance between political power and electrical power distribution in Nigeria. Electricity remains an unresolved problem in Nigeria, a country with vast human and material resources, and the most populous nation on the African continent. Marred by erratic power supply, the nation is caught in a mesh of deceit where gaily dressed political office seekers use the promise of ‘light’ to gain votes.
Dominique Zinkpè’s paintings of biomorphic forms are strongly figurative, intimate and revealing. The strange hybrid beings, both man and animal engage in dance and evoke the mystical and philosophical, deeply rooted in the traditional Benin culture and arising from the fusion of Catholicism, Animism, and modernity.
In all, the exhibition seeks to emphasize the similarities between two cultures whilst highlighting the individuality of each artist. Overall, the exhibition has a strong contemporary outlook and engages the traditions of African art history, resulting in iconic imagery that captures intense and challenging moments.
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High resolution images and more information on the artists are available on request.