VICTOR EKPUK: COMING HOME
Embedded in the southeastern part of Nigeria’s history are the famous nsibidi symbols etched on ancient carvings and pots. Enthusiastic about these indigenous symbol systems, Victor Ekpuk traces its influence on his work from his time studying Fine Art at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife, Nigeria. About this exhibition, Ekpuk explained, ”I wanted my first solo exhibition in Nigeria in over a decade to be relevant to my experience of the place where I call ‘home’, the place where my career was launched. Even though I no longer inhabit this cultural, social, and geographical space, home still feeds my artistic imagination.”
Indeed, Victor Ekpuk not only opened himself to the influences of his daily interactions with the people but also “chose the perspective of a ‘returnee’, an outsider looking in, while walking familiar streets and participating in familiar rituals of life in Nigeria. The goal was to let these experiences impact the outcome of the works I would make here.”
Inventing his own glyphs (drawings as writing), his latest artworks will be on display at an exhibition titled Coming Home from April 9-30 at Arthouse Contemporary- The Space. Ekpuk spent four months in Lagos in 2015, as the first artist in the newly created Arthouse Foundation residency programme, where he undertook a new artistic project and participated in public programmes. Most of the works on exhibit were produced during the residency, and are a result of inspiration by the city of Lagos. According to Kavita Chellaram, founder and CEO, Arthouse – The Space, “… this exhibition attests to the evolution of Ekpuk’s artistic practice as he continues to explore African histories and symbols.”
International curator Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi observes that Victor Ekpuk “…relives old experiences, retraces steps, and creates new ones. Lagos’ milieux de mémoire (apologies to Pierra Nora) is a unique muse that can inspire the dourest of artists and unimpressed of critics. The megacity’s booming commerce driven-modernity, an obstinate bedlam, is a vibrant kaleidoscope. It provides more than enough vistas of hardcore inspiration…Ekpuk employs basic visual tropes: conflation of peoples and the ubiquitous keke Napep commercial tricycle that is increasingly displacing the popular danfo bus, which was once the most prominent avatar of Lagos in public consciousness.”
Born in 1964, Ekpuk is a Nigerian-born artist based in Washington, D.C. He has exhibited his works extensively all over the world, and they can be found in significant private, as well as public collections including the Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C, The World Bank, and Newark Museum.
January 16, 2020
January 15, 2020