By Tajudeen Sowole
Ahead of his major solo art exhibition, which is scheduled for next year, U.S.-based Nigerian artist, Victor Ekpuk has started four months’ residency in Lagos, courtesy of Arthouse Foundation.
The residency programme and the proposed-art exhibition reflect Arthouse’s commitment to promoting Nigerian art beyond the primary business of the auction house. The Arthouse Foundation, a branch of Arthouse Contemporary auction house, is a non-profit organisation aimed at encouraging the creative development of contemporary art in Nigeria. Through a residency-based programme, the foundation provides a platform for artists to expand their practice and experiment with new art forms and ideas.
To Ekpuk, the opportunity will strengthen his relationship with the foundation. Last year, his works were on the list of four artists promoted by Arthouse, The Space, another wing of the auction house, at Art14, Olympia Grand, London, U.K. Sokari Douglas-Camp, Kainebi Osahenye, George Osodi and Victoria Udondian participated in the show.
In the last few years, Ekpuk has been coming to Nigeria for a number of activities after staying away from home in the last 10 years. His visit started in 2013 when he became Omooba Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon Art Foundation (OYASAF) Research Fellow.
For the Arthouse Residency, the Foundation stated that it was establishing a network that would support cross-cultural exchange between Nigerians and international artists, adding that it would embrace contemporary art as an educational model to engage communities, promote social dialogue and advance the critical discourse of artistic practices. A number of activities have been lined up for the artist during the residency.
“During Victor Ekpuk’s residency, Arthouse Foundation will organise an intensive schedule of public programming including an artist talk, a five-day workshop, panel discussion, mentorship with secondary school students, and visits to university art departments.”
Ekpuk is a Nigerian-born artist based in Washington, DC. Ekpuk came to prominence through his paintings and drawings which reflect indigenous African philosophies of the Nsibidi and uli art forms.
Ekpuk reimagines graphic symbols from diverse cultures to form a personal style of mark making that results in the interplay of art and writing. His work frequently explores the human condition in society, drawing upon a wide spectrum of meaning that is rooted in African and global contemporary art discourses.
He obtained his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife, Nigeria in 1989. He developed his minimalist approach of reducing form to constituent lines while working as a cartoonist for Daily Times, a leading Nigerian newspaper, in the 1990s. His works have been exhibited in acclaimed international venues including the Krannert Art Museum (Illinois), the Fowler Museum (California), the Museum of Art and Design (New York), the Newark Museum (New Jersey), the Smithsonian Institution (Washington, DC), the New Museum of Contemporary Art (New York), the Dakar Biennale (Senegal) and the Johannesburg Biennial (South Africa).
Most recently, Ekpuk was featured in exhibitions at the Hood Museum at Dartmouth College and the 12th Havana Biennale in Cuba early this year. Arthouse Contemporary sponsored Ekpuk’s inclusion in the Havana Biennale.