Iké Udé’s ‘Nollywood Portraits’ at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art

Featured Video Play Icon

Running presently at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art is portrait photographer Iké Udé’s Nollywood Portraits.

Udé celebrates the luminescent beauty and mystique of Nigerian visionaries by turning his lens on the talented people who drive Nollywood, Nigeria’s $3 billion film industry. Known for his performative and iconoclastic style and vibrant sense of composition, Udé’s photographs use colour, attire and other markers to make elegant yet unexpected portraits. His photographs make a bold statement about the power of African identities, despite centuries of attempted erasure by Eurocentric art history and notions of beauty.

“We are very excited to join the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art in celebrating these Nigerian film industry personalities in the classic, elegant style IkéUdé has perfected,” says Osahon Akpata, project director of Nollywood Portraits. “The radical beauty of these portraits is intended to make a bold statement about the portrayal of our people at the highest art and cultural institutions in the world.”

On Friday, February 11, 2022, there will be a virtual screening of Udé’s new film, Nollywood in Focus, about the Nigerian film scene, Touria El Glaoui, founding director of 1:54 Contemporary Art Fair, will moderate a discussion with Udé and industry insiders Eku Edewor, Alexx Ekubo, Enyinna Nwigwe, and Joke Silva. They’ll consider such topics as beauty, self-love, and the power of art. The conversation will be preceded by an exclusive screening of the film Nollywood in Focus and a sneak peek of the exhibition.

Nollywood Portraits features 33 of Udé’s 64 portraits of Nollywood film stars, directors and producers, alongside—for the first time—some of the garments styled by the stars and a bespoke set, in which visitors can create their own identities with the help of on-site stylists.

“Black History Month is an opportunity to reflect on the contributions of African people across the globe to art, to history, to culture and to our common humanity,” said Ngaire Blankenberg, director of the National Museum of African Art. “Whether he turns his camera on himself, flowers or the talented stars of Nollywood, Iké Udé presents a world of beauty, and most powerfully, a world that centres on African beauty.”

The exhibition runs till February 2023, it was originated by independent curator Selene Wendt and curated for the Smithsonian by Karen E. Milbourne.



Read The Essential of Jimo Akolo: A Retrospective of Drawings and Paintings

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *