“I find my major inspiration as an artist in a mix of my environment and its components,” he adds, citing people and their social, behavioural and cultural characteristics as key drivers to his creations. “Environment in this case goes beyond my immediate physical environment. But as far as a totally different region or space, the world as of today has grown smaller and we’re much more interconnected than ever before.” Johnson is also inspired by his own emotions and imagination, along with his daily observations and encounters, plus the “endless conflict between one’s understanding of what is and the unending curiosities, amongst other things. It’s an endless list.”
Speaking at the opening of the exhibition earlier this month, Itoje, who was educated at the private boarding school Harrow, says one of the constants in his schooling was “the lack of Black and African history that I was taught”. Moreover, when African history was on the syllabus, it was “a single story or narrative that was told”. He adds: “That story was often depressing, and quite often a saviour/survivor narrative. I want to try and show a fuller picture.”
As part of the Jarman Award Touring Programme 2020, Black filmmaker Jenn Nkiru spoke with Sofia Lemos in conjunction with the Nottingham Contemporary.
They discussed her film Black to Techno (2019), Black musical histories and how the afro-surrealism in her work.
Jenn Nkiru is an artist and filmmaker. Pushed through an Afro-surrealist lens, her practice is grounded in the history of Black music and the aesthetics of experimental film and international art cinema. Her work draws on the Black arts movement and the rich and variegated tradition of cinemas of the Black diaspora and their distinct experimentation with the politics of form. Her work blends elements of history, identity, politics, music, documentary and dance.
Starting at an early age of 6, Arinze had always been enthusiastic about drawing realistic portraits on paper. Being exposed to his family’s paper conversion business, Arinze grew to love paper and pencils as his toys at a very tender age. Over the years He gradually taught himself how to master both Pencils and Paper in harmony as a medium to express himself through what he calls his three P’s namely Patience, Practice and Persistence. These have guided him throughout his journey as an artist.
Whenever I see photorealist art on Twitter, I quote tweet it with something like “DRAWING?!” or “PAINTING?!” and this is no different. The detail is incredible and shows Black people as Black people. No special lighting, just Blackness in art.
As crap as Instagram can be for its treatment of Black creatives (particularly fat Black femmes), I enjoy the people who are Black AF on the platform in a multitude of ways.
Daniel Obaweya aka Nigerian Gothic falls into that category with his archiving of Black photography and Black people from the 90s and early 2000s. It’s a period I remember with fondness and trips down memory lane are becoming more therapeutic in this hell year called 2020.
Obaweya spoke to Vincent Desmond for AnOther Magazine about the account and his latest collaboration with Nigeria’s Homecoming festival run by Browns this year.
“Growing up in Lagos, I was introduced to the beach really early and it’s kind of became a second home because I didn’t live far from it and we always walked our dogs there and just went there to chill,” Obaweya says of the basis of the project. “I found that some older African photographers, like Malick Sidibé, have referenced beach culture, and now a lot of newer, younger photogaphers are doing the same.”
Uzoma Chidumaga Orji is a visual artist and creative technologist from Nigeria. His work is representative of his heritage and focuses heavily on identity as an Igbo Nigerian.
As a technologist he seeks to design engaging human-centred digital experiences that bring the arts and tech into the same conversation.
As an artist he observes and then creates representations of society and of history; visual metaphors that explain his millennial Igbo Nigerian cultural context and the cultural environment he hopes to one day live in.
The essence of his practice is indeed identity, particularly as pertains to self, culture, and nationality. His work uses his notions of his identity as a point of exit to interrogate who we are, how we have come to be and who we aspire to become.
He also works as a web dev which seems like the perfect bridge between both media.