Niki Cryan Gallery has presented a solo exhibition of two photographic series of an acclaimed Nigerian artist, Lakin Ogunbanwo; e wá wo mi and “Are We Good Enough” from acclaimed Nigerian artist Lakin Ogunbanwo.
In e wá wo mi (come look at me) central to Ogunbanwo’s latest exploration, is the culture surrounding Nigerian brides and marriage ceremonies. He uses veiled portraiture to document the complexity of his culture, and counteract the West’s monolithic narratives of Africa and women.
According to Niki Cryan Gallery, a gallery specialising in contemporary art from Africa and its Diaspora Ogunbanwo’s interest in expanding the contemporary African visual archive began in 2012 with his acclaimed ongoing project, Are We Good Enough.
In this series, he documents hats worn as cultural signifiers by various ethnic groups in Nigeria. In e wá wo mi Ogunbanwo furthers this investigation by representing the traditional ceremonial wear of the Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa-Fulani tribes, amongst others.
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Rather than objectively archive these as past-traditions, however, he mimics the pageantry of weddings in present Nigeria. He creates elaborate sets of draped fabric as a backdrop for these brides to perform.
The gallery further states that “the performances these brides carry out are ones of love, familial and cultural pride, feminine strength, and a heterogenous African identity, but they are also the burdens of being wives, mothers and daughters-in-law. The expectation of femininity and the role of women are canonised on the wedding day.
“The series “Are We Good Enough” is a series of enigmatic portraits that explore identity. By purposefully obscuring the individual identity of the sitters, Ogunbanwo draws attention to what it is that defines an individual within a larger cultural collective; who this individual may be and how they want to be perceived. He has pared down the communicative aspect of the project to the power of the hat – ‘that witty but vital accessory in fashion’ – to speak of masculine identity.
Presented by pop-up gallery, Niki Cryan Gallery, which specialises in exhibiting Modern and Contemporary Art, this will be the first time these two bodies of work will be shown together and his first show in Lagos in almost seven years.
His work has been featured in the Times New York, Vogue Italia, The New Yorker Magazine, ID online, Harpers Bazaar, British GQ and Riposte Magazine, while his recent exhibitions include Lagos Photo Festival; 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, London and Grid Photo Biennial, Whatiftheworld Cape Town South Africa.
Niki Cryan Gallery is an international pop up Gallery exhibiting modern and contemporary art.
Founded in 2018, the gallery specialises in contemporary art from Africa and its Diaspora. It is based in Lagos, Nigeria and is owned and directed by Nkechi Cryan.
The notable previous works of the gallery include UK mixed media contemporary artist Irvin Pascal’s “The Nenaissance” Exhibition and assisted in Leonardo Dicaprio Foundation 2017 edition, by donating contemporary African art to the online fundraising auction.
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