A Roundtable Discussion On Ekpuk’s Coming Home
Ahead of his major first solo art exhibition in Nigeria titled Home Coming, U.S-based artist, Victor Ekpuk hosts Lagos art enthusiasts at a roundtable discussion..
The discussion will explore the various themes in his work, his inspirations, as well as Ekpuk’s career from his beginnings in Lagos in the 1990s to the present.
Discussants include distinguished scholars, fellow artists, art critics and cultural advocates such as Mrs. Chinwe Uwatse, Mr. Toyin Akinosho, Dr. Jerry Buhari and Dr. Kunle Filani.
This event is a continuation of programing around Ekpuk’s recently concluded artist-in-residency program with Arthouse Foundation, a Lagos based non-profit art organization.
The works realized from his time as an artist-in-residence will be shown in his first solo exhibition in Nigeria in over a decade, opening 9-30th April-2016, at Renault Showroom, Victoria Island, Lagos.
Ekpuk is a Nigerian-born artist based in Washington, DC. He is renowned for his glyph-like paintings and drawings that are inspired by the aesthetic philosophies of indigenous African art forms and graphic symbols from diverse cultures. Ekpuk reimagines these symbols to form a personal style of mark making that results in the interplay of art and writing. His work frequently explores the human condition, drawing upon a wide spectrum of meaning that is rooted in African and global contemporary art discourses.
His artworks are in such collections as the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of African Art, Newark Museum, The World Bank, Hood Museum, Krannert Art Museum, United States Art in Embassies Art Collection, and Fidelity Investment Art Collection.
Ekpuk’s works have been featured at the 12th Havana Biennial, Dakar Biennial, Hood Museum, Fowler Museum, Museum of Art and Design, Newark Museum, The World Bank, Smithsonian Institution National Museum of African Art, New Museum of Contemporary Art, and the 1st Johannesburg Biennial.
Before leaving Nigeria to U.S in the late 1990s, Ekpuk established himself as an illustrator, publishing his works in newspapers. When he returned for a break in 2014, courtesy of Research Fellowship grant from Omooba Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon Art Foundation (OYASAF), his rendition, so suggested an accompanied Open Studio, still weaves around simple illustrative strength of his brushings on canvas. More importantly, his theme was based on memories of Lagos, which attempted to juxtapose with the subsisting scenes he saw during his return.
For the Arthouse residency and what to expect when the planned-exhibition opens, possibly, before the end of the first quartre in 2016, Ekpuk tells his guest that it’s still an extension of “how Lagos inspires me.” The residency, he adds, offered a window to expand his horizon on the Lagos inspiration beyond “the expenditure I have been doing in the U.S.”
In his previous visit, Ekpuk picked on the changing face of commuting in Lagos, with tricycle (keke), among others that attracted his palette. For the 2015/16 works, a culture of people mounting loads on their heads from one place to another, is among his focuses. Beyond seeing people, in physical context using their heads to carry loads, the artist takes his inspiration further. “Metaphorically and literally, we all carry things on our heads,” notes Ekpuk as he leads his quest through the works. The concept, he explains gives other meanings to some of the works that feature hairstyles and other fashions, which include one form of head wears or the other.