Njideka Akunyili Crosby in conversation at Tate Modern ahead of new London exhibition

Los- Angeles based Nigerian born visual artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby will be showcasing her new work ‘Portals’ next month at the Victoria Miro gallery in north London.

Crosby is famous for her unique paintings which depict still life forms borrowing inspiration from everyday life in Nigeria. To kids who grew up in the 80’s in Nigeria, her paintings are a delightful journey down memory lane. From a depiction of a woman relaxing while the iconic ‘Omo super blue Omo‘ advert runs on the telly with everyday staples from recognisable brands on the table, to a portrait showing a family gathered in the living room, Njideka sheds light on the lives of ordinary people, doing ordinary things and herein lies the beauty of her work- the simplicity of expression.

Predecessors 2013 Njideka Akunyili Crosby born 1983 Purchased with funds provided by the Acquisitions Fund for African Art supported by Guaranty Trust Bank Plc 2014 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T14021

Predecessors 2013 Njideka Akunyili Crosby born 1983 Purchased with funds provided by the Acquisitions Fund for African Art supported by Guaranty Trust Bank Plc 2014 

The daughter of the late former EFCC boss and Minister for Education Dora Akunyili, this will be Crosby’s first solo exhibition in Europe with a collection made exclusively for the Victoria Miro gallery.

While the artist’s formative years in Nigeria are a constant source of inspiration, Akunyili Crosby’s grounding in Western art history adds further layers of reference. Just as the genre of still life has since its infancy been used as both a representation of the quotidian and an expression of the symbolic, Akunyili Crosby’s still lifes are both highly personal and freighted with cultural meaning. The Twain Shall Meet, 2015, for example, is one of a number of works that incorporates an image of the table owned by the artist’s grandmother, who appears in a framed portrait. Laden with familial and other possessions it also plays host to a range of visual cues about geographical and of changing socio-economic circumstances. A recurring motif is the kerosene lamp. Ubiquitous in rural areas of Nigeria, where electricity supplies are at best unreliable, it shares space with plastic containers used for storing, cooking and serving food. Here, ideas of home, hospitality and generosity mingle with thoughts about cultural inheritance in a broader sense. There are references to a tea culture derived from British colonialism. Christianity, another colonial import, is alluded to in two framed images of the Virgin Mary.

Njideka Akunyili Crosby

Njideka Akunyili Crosby

Ahead of her exhibition, Crosby will be in conversation with Zoe Whitley at the Tate Modern in an event sponsored by Guaranty Trust Bank on the 29th of September from 7-8.30pm. This will be followed by an audience Q&A. Click here for tickets.

Njideka Akunyili Crosby’s exhibition ‘Portals’ is from 4 October – 5 November 2016
Victoria Miro Gallery II
16 Wharf Road, London N1 7RW

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