Signature African Art opens its doors on 12 March 2020 with a presentation of
new paintings by the celebrated Nigerian artist, Oluwole Omofemi.
Entitled The Way We Were, the exhibition is a celebration of Afrocentric pride, as well as reflection on the post-colonial era. The British artist Claudette Johnson has talked of the ‘fiction of blackness’ that colonialism left in its wake and of the need for people to assert their identity through their own stories. Omofemi embraces this idea, focussing on the importance of hair amongst black
While it has always been a signifier of status and identity, Omofemi looks back to recent history, to The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and ‘70s, and the natural hair movement. This encouraged black people to eschew European styles for afros, a move that was championed by popular icons such as Jimi Hendrix and
In Omofemi’s work, hair stands as a metaphor for freedom — indeed, sometimes it literally spills over the edge of the canvas, as with Root II; while in others, such as Omonalisa, it dominates the composition, becoming larger than the subject itself. Rendered in oil and acrylic, these paintings sometimes have simple primary coloured backgrounds, which lend them a vivid Pop Art sensibility; in others, a
darker mood is created, referencing the works of the Old Masters.