Saturday 12 November 2022

'Amazing Nigeria' through Amadi-Obi's lens

Kelechi Amadi-Obi.

RARELY recognized for its beauty, Nigeria gets the attention of renowned photographer, Kelechi Amadi-Obi's roving camera.

In 30 photographs, Amadi-Obi has captured extraordinary vistas of Nigeria, shown as a solo exhibition titled Amazing Nigeria, from October 28 to November 6, 2022, at the EcoBank Pan-African Centre, 270 Ozumba Mbadiwe Street, Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria.

Presented by SMO Contemporary, the exhibition was a culmination of Amadi-Obi’s twelve month journey traveling across Nigeria to photograph spectacular mountains and valleys and discovering breathtaking waterfalls and awe-inspiring landscapes, in an effort to tell a radically different story about the nation’s rare, forgotten panoramic vistas.

A trained lawyer turned fashion photographer, publisher, and mentor to a whole generation of creative talent in Nigeria’s film, music and visual arts industry, Amadi-Obi has taken a meditative journey into the heart of his homeland.  SMO noted his rich career spanning over twenty years as one of Nigeria’s cutting edge trend-setters and style icons.

Amadi-Obi is a multiple award winning photographer whose images have been showcased in leading global publications and platforms including Vogue Italia, Emporio Armani, Forbes, Microsoft, Coca Cola, and winning the St.Moritz Style Award for Photography. Besides his commercial work in the advertising industry, he has taken hundreds of portraits of celebrities including two sitting presidents, and his images have been featured in coffee-table books, including the Architecture of Demas Nwoko by Godwin and Gillian Hopwood (2006) and Making History;African Collectors and the Canon of African Art by Sylvester Okwunodu Ogbechie (2012).

A pioneer of African contemporary fashion and style, Amadi-Obi published the glossy, Vogue inspired Style Mania magazine, which became a powerful platform for up-and-coming models, designers, makeup artists and stylists in the early to mid 2000’s. His images paved the way for emerging talent like Emmanuel Oyeleke to become household names within the fast-paced Nigerian creative industry.

He was a co-founder of the photography collective Depth-of-Field (DOF) together with TY Bello, Uche James Iroha, Amaize Ojeikere, Emeka Okereke and Toyosi Zaynab Odunsi. DOF made its debut at the international Bamako Encounters African Biennale of Photography in Mali in 2001, going on to showcase their fine art images in exhibitions from Lagos to London, Paris, and New York. Passionate about new technology and the youth, Amadi-Obi has dedicated himself to teaching master classes for Nigeria’s burgeoning photo industry, regularly taking young talent on documentary walks through the thriving, densely populated streets of Lagos, in search of the next big story.

“I believe perception often becomes our reality. It is how we look at the world around us. The Internet, social media, and books have become agencies from which perception collates. We form a conclusive opinion of a place without ever visiting it because of the impression fed,” explained Amadi-Obi in his artist statement. “With this project, I decided to go on a journey to discover Nigeria for myself… From the pitch-dark caves of Ogbunike to the cascading waters of Agbokim to standing above the clouds on Obudu mountain...there was no end to the beauties that abound.”

“At a time when the incessant drone of bad news is increasing, Amazing Nigeria reminds us of the power of art to transcend the ordinary and urgent; it is Amadi-Obi’s commitment to ignite hope, and change our perceptions of our country, as well as change the world’s perception of what truly represents Nigeria in all its diverse complexities,” commented Sandra Mbanefo Obiago, the exhibition curator. “Contemporary visual culture in Lagos and Nigeria is incomplete without the emollient narratives of Amadi-Obi”, noted Azu Nwabogu, Founder and Artistic Director of the cutting edge yearly LagosPhoto Festival . “It is noteworthy to observe Amazing Nigeria’s wide-angle approach in taking several steps-back to assess, present and highlight the diverse, beautiful, little known and underutilised landscapes that grace the topography of Nigeria.”

Amazing Nigeria is supported by The Macallan and hosted by Ecobank. 

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