Thursday, October 1, 2020

Interrogating Cultural Hybridization in Afrofuturism

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By Prisca Sam-Duru

A virtual exhibition of sixteen works of painting, graphic illustration, hyper-realistic drawings and collage by three millennial artists; Ifeatuanya “Ify” Chiejina, Nwakuso Edozien and Johnson Eziefula, has just opened to the public.

The exhibition entitled “Neo Custodios”, curated by SMO Contemporary Art, aims to redefine, interrogate and celebrate African identity. The show will be open from September 6 to 30, 2020 and can be viewed on the SMO Contemporary Art website.

“Neo Custodians” is an exciting media mix of artists at the beginning of their artistic journey, exploring and discovering their authentic voice in an art market saturated with diverse trend followers. Through various means, these three young artists examine layers of social, genetic, and cultural heritage and influence in an attempt to define, examine, and celebrate their identity.

Displaying a more critical moment of black political consciousness, especially among people of color, and with a focus on how art reflects the Black Lives Matters movement, these young artists bring fresh, multi-textured depth and sensitivity to the scene. global conversation. around identity and culture.

Ify Chiejina, a first-generation American, considers the complexity of being raised by African parents in the West. His works are part of an ongoing series consisting primarily of self-portraits. Each drawing, for example “Health”, represents different facets of your identity.

Ify’s works speak of the duality that is experienced when trying to internalize social precepts.

Nwakuso Edozien, a recent graduate Nigerian-German architect currently based in the United States, explores the concept of identity from a generational point of view. Create layered portraits and illustrations as seen in “Three Identities”, with finely sprinkled three-dimensional textures, exploring depth and interconnectedness.

Nwakuso uses mixed techniques as a metaphor to address the various layers and complexities of genealogical and geographic impact on oneself.

Johnson Eziefula, a graduate of the Department of Pharmacy at the University of Lagos, takes a more scientific approach in a series celebrating cultural hybridization. His hyper-realistic portraits such as ‘Entirety Interrupted III’, a portrait of a beautiful African lady adorned with a captivating Afro hairstyle, emphasize the intersection of a myriad of influences from colonization to globalization and technological socialization, as well as their effects on communities. . and cultures.

Through these portraits, Johnson takes a psychological approach with the use of light and color to emphasize the penetration of cross-cultural influences.

According to the curator of the exhibition, Nneoma Ilogu, “These“ neo custodians ”do not pretend to have reached an answer, but with each brushstroke they expose questions buried under the surface. They decipher the burden of the Millennium that navigates the notion of itself by questioning all inheritance and all influence ”.

“Chiejina, Edozien and Johnson reveal a continuous sensitivity that asks the viewer to recompose the continuity of a narrative of heritage and identity. A vivid incompleteness is the potential for a new age of custodians and supersedes a static fulfillment of a transformative role. Being a Neo Custodian becomes exciting as we are invited to enter speech labs, ”commented Art Historian Dr. Charlotte Langhorst.

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