Another Akunyili Makes Nigeria Proud, Wins Major International Competition


Njideka Akunyili Crosby, the 32-year old daughter of Nigeria’s former Information Minister and Director General of the National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Late Dr. Mrs Dora Akunyili, has has won the 2016 Prix Canson art competition, making Nigeria proud just like her mother did.

According to, once a year, the Fonds Canson pour l’Art et le Papier gives its Prix Canson to one artist in honor of his or her work on paper. This year that artist is the superb Los Angeles–based, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, who makes intimate paintings on paper by intricately collaging together photographs transferred to paper with patches acrylic, charcoal, and other materials.

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Njideka Akunyili
Njideka Akunyili Crosby

Having emerged winner of the Prix Canson, Njideka who lives in Los Angeles in the United States of America will receive a solo show and €10,000 (about $11,300) worth of Canson paper, and the Fonds Canson will purchase one of her pieces. In addition, she will take part in a residency program at the home of the late artist Tunga, who was a member of the jury and who died earlier this month.

Histories and cultures blur in the works of Njideka Akunyili Crosby. The collages she embeds in her autobiographical tableaux include family snapshots but also advertisements from the 1970s and ’80s as well as photographs that date back to the colonial period in Nigeria. Making a composition, she typically begins with photographs—ones she either shoots herself or finds—and uses them as the basis for drawings that lead to the paintings.

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She said:

“I do all of these mixes so that when you are in front of it you, the viewer, are being placed in this transcultural, trans-everything space,” she told me, adding that she is always on the lookout for “things that point to the convoluted but interesting and beautiful histories that come out of post-colonial countries.”

Njideka has been making waves lately, with solo shows and projects at the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida, the Whitney Museum in New York, and the Hammer Museum and Art+Practice in Los Angeles.

The other finalists for this year’s prize includes Ruby Onyinyechi Amanze, a Nigerian, Bethany Collins, David Shrigley, and Lucy Skaer.