Nigeria

#YNaijaArt99: Peju Alatise, David Uzochukwu, Ayobola Kekere-Ekun| The 99 Most Influential Nigerians in Art

As is YNaija‘s annual tradition, the anticipated Art 99 list has just been revealed, introducing the most influential figures in the world of contemporary art. Compiled in consultation with a Juror, it ranks individuals and organisations influencing the art sphere. Who made the cut and is counted among the art Nigeria’s most influential players? See below:

Visual Artists 

YNaija Art 99, 2020

Otobong Nkanga: Otobong uses drawings, photographs, sculptures, and performances to express her art. She examines the social and topographical relationship with our everyday environment with art. Exploring the notion of land as a place of ‘non-belonging’, Nkanga provides an alternative meaning to the social ideas of identity. Nkanga has been named the top art ‘star of tomorrow’ by German art database, Kunstkompass

Victor Ehikhamenor: Victor was on the list of “42 African Innovators to Watch” and was once termed as “undeniably one of Africa’s most innovative contemporary artists”. He is a Nigerian artist whose interests in art have been influenced by family as his uncle was a photographer and his mum was a local artist. He has received several awards and exhibition opportunities both locally and internationally. 

Marcia Kure: Kure is a Nigerian contemporary painter. Trained at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Kure’s work is a fusion of paintings and drawings that engage with post-colonial existentialist conditions and identities. Kure’s early work focused on political violence and the agency of women in a patriarchal society. Her recent work, however, has been concerned with themes related to motherhood, haute couture fashion, hip-hop aesthetics. 

Ndidi Dike: Dike is indeed one of Nigeria’s leading female artists, who uses sculpture and mixed-media painting to create compelling stories. Dike studied painting at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and taught herself to sculpt. She returned to painting in 2004 after a brief hiatus in well over a decade of transgressive sculptural practice. Dike is usually inspired by Nigerian visual culture, urbanism, globalisation, consumerism, post-colonial studies, slavery, cross border/country migration, multi-culturism, art history, and contemporary politics. 

Olu Amoda: Olu Amoda is a sculptor who is best known for his metal sculptural works culled from industrial waste. His works depict hybrid creatures and entities comprising animals, humans, and flowers. Olu explores the relations between the industrial life and organic agriscience. His pivotal work, Sunflower, earned him the Grand Prix Léopold Sédar Senghor at Dak’Art, the 11th Biennial of the Contemporary African Art in Dakar, Senegal in 2014. 

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Peju Alatise: Peju Alatise is a Nigerian artist and writer. She is also a fellow at the National Museum of African Art, part of the Smithsonian Institution. Alatise received formal training as an architect at Ladoke Akintola University in Oyo, Nigeria. 

Yinka Shonibare: British-Nigerian artist, Yinka, explores ideas around authenticity, identity, colonialism, and power relations with drawings, paintings, sculptures, photographs, films, and installations. Yinka’s signature element is his use of Dutch wax-printed fabric, otherwise known as ‘African fabric’.

Ade Adekola: Adekola is a digital artist who uses photography as his medium. His work spans a variety of media: photography, installations, and interactive art. Adekola experiments with photography to create hybrid art that speaks identity, self and globalisation. He started out in his early teens and has built an outstanding portfolio for himself over the years. In his recent works, he redirects his practice to creating contemporary representations from traditional and urban Nigerian culture.

Rom Isichei: Rom Isichei is a painter and collage artist who engages object and material exploration in his art. He utilises the varied media of painting, sculpture to explore the metaphors of everyday experiences in the social and personal sphere. Isichie is best known for his signature style of portraiture using expressive, textured brush strokes. The artist has hosted exhibitions across Nigeria as well as in the United States, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. 

YNaija Art 99, 2020

Kelani Abass: Kelani has been described by many as a ‘painter’s painter’. And this title is mostly awarded to artists who show exceptional excellence with their works. The painter is a postwar contemporary painter whose work has been featured in several exhibitions at key galleries and museums, including the Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos. In 2020, Abass was on the panel for the ‘Next of Kin’ art competition for emerging contemporary artists. 

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Modupeola Fadugba: Fadugba is a multimedia artist that uses painting, drawing, and socially-engaged installation to create art. With a background in engineering, education and economics, Modupe comfortably explores many disciplines. Her works explore cultural identity, social justice, game theory, and the art world within the socio-political landscape of Nigeria. In 2019, Modupe, together with ArtDocs, documented the process of creating her works. The documentary film was screened at the Brooklyn Museum, New York in 2019, and at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York in September 2019. 

Peju Layiwola: The University of Lagos Professor of Art and Art History is a Nigerian sculptor who focuses most of her works in metal design. She claims her works are inspired majorly by her mother. Her works have been exhibited on several international platforms. 

Alimi Adewale: Alimi Adewale is a Nigerian contemporary visual artist and sculptor. Alimi has an educational background in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Ilorin, Kwara, but his interest in art and exhibitions spurred his interest in becoming an artist. 

Emeka Ogboh: Through audio installations and gastronomic works, Ogboh explores how memories and histories are translated, transformed, and encoded into sound and food. His works contemplate how auditory and gustatory experiences capture existential relationships and frame our understanding of the world to provide a context in which to ask critical questions on immigration, globalisation, and post-colonialism. 

Qudus Onikeku: Qudus Onikeku is a performance artist and can well be described as a hybrid creative who uses contemporary dance to express himself and pass on powerful messages. Over the years, Qudus has established for himself as one of the preeminent multitalented artists, working today with different media: performance, research, installation, curating, and community organising. 

Wura Natasha OgunjiOgunji is a visual artist best known for her performative and video-based works. Her artistic themes include physicality and the body, our relationship to space, memory, and history. Her recent work deals with women occupying the public space of Lagos. Ogunji has been a temporary instructor at the Center for Art of Africa and its Diasporas (CAAD) at the University of Texas in Austin. She was also awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship in 2012. Her work has been featured in exhibitions in Nigeria and other international locations. 

Ngozi OmejeOmeje is a sculptor who uses ceramics to create monumental and asthetic pieces. Her works of art are configured with globular clay units to accentuate her place in her immediate socio-cultural context. Ngozi describes her artworks as a paradox of hope and despair, depicting how strength is drawn from pain and disappointment, thereby dialoguing between the two concepts. 

Ndidi Emefiele: Emefiele is a mixed-media artist and painter. The artist explores society constructs, identity, and gender. Emefiele has been featured in international media outlets and published in various magazines and online platforms. The artist is also well exhibited in Nigeria and internationally. Her work can be found in major and important collections.

YNaija Art 99, 2020

Uthman Wahaab: Uthman is a Nigerian artist whose work presents an overarching interest in social phenomenon. The uniqueness with his art is the consistent use of a medium or singular aesthetic style to tell different stories. Uthman explores his art with the use of drawing, painting, graphic design, film, photography, sculpture, and installation. Wahaab is mostly concerned with developing a new visual language that consciously rejects traditional forms of depiction to document ongoing history and unfolding realities. 

Taiye Idahor: Taiye is a sculptor with a degree in fine art from the Yaba College of Technology (Yabatech), Lagos. She uses hair majorly in her artworks and had her first solo exhibition in 2014 which she called “Hairvolution”. She also uses her sculptures to address socio-political issues regarding women. 

Soji Adesina: Adesina is a multi-disciplinary artist whose practise spans drawing, painting, film, photography, installation, and graphic design. The artist has forged a distinctive impasto style in most of his projects with subjects in his paintings appearing involved, deconstructed and sometimes, even afflicted, and tortured.

Isaac Emokpae: Isaac Emokpae is a visual artist, painter, and photographer from Nigeria. Isaac is a descendant of famous Nigerian visual artist and sculptor, Erhabor Ogieva Emokpae (OON). In his work, Isaac explores the concept of dualism and spiritualism. Isaac’s work has been exhibited in Nigeria and across several other countries of the world. 

Gerald Chukwuma: Gerald is well-known for his complicatedly crafted sculptures on wood panels. The artist captures a richly layered history that is embedded with personal and political meanings. Gerald often uses the traditional Uli and Nsibidi symbols which links his work to the Nsukka art tradition credited with expanding and modernising the Igbo cultural aesthetic. 

Dipo Doherty: Dipo Doherty is a multidisciplinary artist based in the United States. His work blurs lines between his Nigerian heritage, engineering background, and interests in technology. With his paintings, he explores life across several snapshots through time using the human form as a vessel. The eyes are a common theme in his work, and play a special role because they represent awareness, existence, and intelligence. 

Ayobola Kekere-Ekun: Ayobola is a Nigerian contemporary artist who utilizes a technique called paper quilling which involves using strips of paper to decorate. Her artworks majorly focus on Nigerian feminism and their socio-political effects on spaces that may be misogynistic. She has exhibited her works on international platforms in South Africa and London, England. 

Chibuike Uzoma: Chibuike holds a B.A. in painting from the University of Benin. He describes himself as a multidisciplinary artist. His art projects are nourished by life and the reciprocals between humans and the human condition. Through an exceptional organic process, he creates visual languages to portray both new perspectives and alternative narratives. Usually taking reference from Nigeria, African Diaspora, and the Global South, Uzoma’s artworks engage global dialogues and issues of contemporary politics, post-colonialism, migration, thought, urbanisation as well as themes related to religious and ethnic conflicts. 

Juror

Roli O’tsemaye: Roli O’tsemaye is a writer, art critic and curator with interest in design, experimental art and cultural archiving. She previously worked in communications, content research and acquisitions for several TV and film companies in Lagos, Nigeria. Her writings on contemporary art were first published in 2016 in The Sole Adventurer digital magazine. She was co-curator of a group photography exhibition for the 2019 Ake Arts and Book Festival titled ‘What Lies Beneath’. 

As a writer, she has freelanced as a contributor for various local and international art magazines including Art Dependence (Belgium), Visi Magazine (South Africa) and Sugarcane Magazine (US). She is currently a staff writer and the editorial coordinator at TSA Art Magazine. 

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