kó is pleased to participate in Art X Lagos 2020, featuring artists Uzo Egonu, Ben Osawe, Chike Obeagu, Chioma Ebinama, Toyin Loye and Isaac Emokopae. Art X Lagos takes place virtually this year on www.artxlagos.com.
Uzo Egonu was a Nigerian-born artist who settled in Britain in the 1940s, where he was based until his death in 1996. Working primarily in painting and printmaking, Uzo Egonu combined references from Igbo and European cultural traditions to form a unique modernist language. Egonu’s prints are characterised by an illustrious use of color and geometric forms. This series of prints was made in the 1980s and represent the mature phase of Egonu’s oeuvre. The prints originated from the archive collection of Bernard Cook, a printmaker in London who worked with Egonu for almost a decade beginning in the 1970s. As such, these prints are “Printer’s Proof” and “Artist’s Proof” editions.
Born in Onitsha, Nigeria in 1931, Uzo Egonu moved to Britain at the age of fourteen, and went on to study at the Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts, London, from 1949-1952. His work has been included in many landmark exhibitions of black British artists, including The Other Story at Hayward Gallery, London in 1989, and Transforming the Crown at the Caribbean Cultural Center in New York in 1996. Egonu participated in FESTAC ’77 in Lagos as a representative of the United Kingdom.
Ben Osawe was a central artist of Nigeria’s post-independence generation. He is best known for his modernist sculptures. Osawe’s wood carvings and bronze castings incorporated fluid shapes and minimalist features, often abstracting the human form.
Born in 1931 in Agbor, Delta State, Nigeria, Ben Osawe was first introduced to art by his father, who was a sculptor and served as a carver to the court of the Kingdom of Benin. Osawe moved to London in his twenties for his formal art education. By the 1960s, Osawe had exhibited extensively throughout Europe. In 1965, he was selected to represent Nigeria as one of five Commonwealth artists in the Commonwealth Exhibition in Glasgow. After ten years in London, Osawe returned to Nigeria in 1966, working as an artist in Lagos until settling in Benin City in 1979. During his years in Lagos, Osawe exhibited with the Mbari Centre in Ibadan and the Mainland Hotel, Lagos. Common themes in Osawe’s work include heads, masks, and abstract sculptural busts, which reflected his interest in combining African narratives within the context of modernist art practice.
Chike Obeagu is a visual artist, curator and writer whose work explores the dualism of human nature and its social manifestations. He creates large-scale, expressive mixed-media paintings, which incorporate elements of collage. Obeagu combines colorful compositions and geometric patterns, using torn pages from magazines and commercial advertisements. He explores the experiences of the everyday through narratives of music, politics, religion, family and kinship.
Born in 1975 in Enugu, Nigeria, Chike Obeagu earned a Bachelor of Art and Master of Fine Art degrees at the University of Nigeria Nsukka. Obeagu's work has been exhibited in many international exhibitions including Dak'Art (Senegal), the Hood Museum of Art (USA), Richard Taittinger Gallery (New York), Art Expo (New York), and Art X Lagos. In 2015, he was included in the Imago Mundi project in conjunction with the Venice Biennale's 56th International Art Exhibition at Fondazione Giorgio Cini. Chike Obeagu is currently pursuing his PhD. from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
Chioma Ebinama makes figurative watercolors on paper to explore drawing and visual narrative as a meditative practice and tool for self-liberation. Raised in the United States by Nigerian Christian immigrants, she is drawn to the aesthetic of formalized religion for its potential to celebrate inner life. As she seeks to create new mythologies for the African Diaspora, her work is influenced by a myriad of sources, from West African cosmology, to folk art of the global South, to the visual language of Western religion and Eastern spiritual traditions. Also prevalent is her reflection on gender and queer identities through a figurative language influenced by surrealism and Igbo culture. The collision of aesthetics is indicative of Ebinama’s nomadic life in recent years as she breathes the air of Mexico, South Korea, India, Malaysia, and now Greece.
Ebinama has mounted solo exhibitions at Catinca Tabacaru (2018) and Fortnight Institute (2020) in New York City, at Boys’ Quarters Project Space in Port Harcourt, Nigeria (2019), and The Breeder in Athens, Greece (2020). She is also in the process of illustrating a children’s book written by Kevin Young, poetry editor of The New Yorker and former Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, with Make Me A World, an imprint of Random House books curated by Christopher Myers.
Toyin Loye is an artist who is best known for his experimentations with materials and technical interventions, working across diverse media including painting, sculpture, photography and mixed media. His works combine photographic elements, often using black and white photographs of women, where he punctures the material support to create rips and tears. Drawing inspiration from his cultural heritage, Loye points to Yoruba traditions of body and face markings, which represent identification with community, family and genealogy, as well as acting as symbols of beauty. Making his own marks by carving into the photographic surface, the artworks take on a sculptural depth and play with abstraction and colour. Created through a silkscreen process, each work is unique in its individual perforations.
Born in 1959 in Ijebu Jesa, Nigeria, Toyin Loye studied Fine Art at Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile Ife. His work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in Nigeria, Senegal, Argentina, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, United Kingdom, Australia, United States, Germany, Spain, Norway, Belgium and the Netherlands. Toyin was commissioned by FIFA along with Andreas Gursky, Luo Brothers, Markus Lupetz and others to create the official Art Poster for the Germany 2006 World Cup.
Isaac Emokpae is a visual artist, painter, and photographer, whose approach to art is based broadly on the principle of duality. Emokpae’s practice combines elements of expressionist and surrealism, with a focus on the texture of the canvas, bold colours and unusual figures and forms. Emokpae is often inspired by people, interpersonal relationships and personal experiences.
Born in 1977, Emokpae was introduced to art by his father, the pioneering modernist Erhabor Emokpae. He received a BA in Creative Arts at the University of Lagos, studying under the tutelage of Professor Abayomi Barber. Before focusing on painting, he worked primarily as a photographer. Emokpae has won numerous awards including the UNESCO Save Our Treasures art competition in Troyes, France in 1996, and the Hasselblad Masters (semi-finalist award) for photography in 2007. In 2019, he was selected by the Alliance Francaise as the lead artist representing Nigeria in a joint art exchange with the UAE. In 2018, he performed live art as part of the Special Projects section during Art X Lagos.