Isaac Emokpae: Duality

Isaac Emokpae: Duality

Duality, a noteworthy exhibition of 35 paintings on board and canvas by emerging artist, Isaac Iken Emokpae, opens to the public at The Wheatbaker on April 6.  Emokpae, son of late modern artist, Erhabor Emokpae (1934-1984, is best known for his photography and studied Fine Art under the tutelage of Professor Abayomi Barber of the University of Lagos and one of Nigeria’s celebrated modernists. His art transcends his African identity and reflects a worldview that is powerful and engaging.

Emokpae’s bold colours and composition of unusual shapes and figures transcend borders. In this exhibition, select works from his Autumn series, depicting stark landscapes with silhouette trees are paired with his Monad series, presenting a young man’s philosophical journey and expanding on his artistic roots.

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“In line with Duality, my forms represent the semi tangible container that we call the soul, and the colours are expressive of the various emotions that we all encounter in our everyday relationships,” explains Emokpae, whose inspiration is influenced by the philosophies of Liebniz, Descartes and Santayana.

“The audacity of Iken’s compositions, the vivacity and the fertility of his imagination all go to show that he has personal vision, the greatest attribute of an artist,” comments his mentor, Prof. Abayomi Barber. “Emokpae is a serious minded, highly gifted young Nigerian artist.”

“His use of colour is mature, with poetry wrapped around a myriad of humanoid shapes with large heads and playful features.” adds exhibition curator, Sandra Mbanefo-Obiago, who has presented many emerging artists to the local art community. “His work exists on a spectrum ranging from cartoon simplicity to opaque expressionism.“

The exhibition is sponsored by corporate entities with a reputation for supporting the arts. Deutsche Bank has the largest art collection in the global banking industry and works with international museums and fairs to present cutting edge emerging artists, paper based art works, and photography. Ruinart is the oldest established Champagne house, supporting global art events such as Art Basel Hong Kong and Miami and PAD Paris and London.

The Wheatbaker, which is hosting the exhibition until the end of April, is Nigeria’s leading boutique hotel, providing its space as a local platform for exceptional modern and contemporary art; they have hosted art auctions and exhibitions by established artists such as Nnenna Okore, Duke Asidere, and photographers Kelechi Amadi-Obi, Yetunde Ayeni-Babaeko, and recently, Lakin Ogunbanwo.

Isaac Emokpae (b. 1976) is an emerging Nigerian visual artist, who studied art at the University of Lagos under Professor Abayomi Barber. Although Emokpae studied painting he has spent most of his professional life focusing on photography in fashion and journalism for clients such as 234 NEXT, Tiffany Amber, Elan, AD Consulting and Nigeria’s leading advertising agencies. He has won numerous awards including the UNESCO Save our Treasures art competition in Troyes, France (1996) and the Hasselblad Masters (Semi Finalist Award) for Photography in 2007.


Oliver Enwonwu is founder and Editor-in-Chief of Omenka magazine, Director, Omenka Gallery and Chief Executive, Revilo. He holds a first degree in Biochemistry, advanced diploma in Exploration Geophysics (distinction), Post Graduate Diplomas in Applied Geophysics and Visual Art (distinction) and a Masters in Art History, all from the University of Lagos. He is the founder, Executive Director, and trustee of The Ben Enwonwu Foundation. He also sits on the board of several organizations including the National Gallery of Art, Nigeria and the Reproduction Rights Society of Nigeria. Enwonwu is also president of both the Society of Nigerian Artists and the Alliance of Nigerian Art Galleries.

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