Meet 4 Nigerian Artists Who You Never Knew Are International Icons

As the Artists list for Documenta 14 emerges, four Nigerian artists were among those to exhibit in Kassel and Greece at 2017 quinquennial and they include Akinbode Akinbiyi, Otobong Nkanga, Emeka Ogboh and Olu Oguibe.

The documenta 14 is organised by Artistic Director, Adam Szymczyk, together with an international team of curators, advisors, assistants.

It seeks to encompass a multitude of voices in, between, and beyond the two cities [Kassel and Anthen] where it is situated, reaching outside the European context from the vantage point of the Mediterranean metropolis of Athens, where Africa, the Middle East, and Asia stand face to face.

Participating artists have been invited to think and produce within the context of the emerging dynamic relationship between these two cities and to develop a work for each of the two locations.

These well-hiddenNigerian artists were among the 150 other (including those that are late) listed and BuzzNigeria did a background check to discover what they have to offer.

So here’s what we found:

Akinbode Akinbiyi

Nigerian Artists
Nigerian Artists

He is identified as a photographer, curator and writer, born in the Oxford United Kingdom in 1946, by Nigerian parents.

He is said to be a photographer since the early seventies, focusing in particular on large urban areas, especially on the African continent.

In 2016, Akinbiyi along with his fellow artists, Yurii Andrukhovych and David Lordkipanidze, won the Goethe Medal for their outstanding services to cultural exchange between their home countries and Germany.

The 71-year old who has lived in Berlin since the early 1990s is considered one of the most important artistic mediators between Germany and sub-Saharan Africa.

With his photographs of everyday life in African cities including Lagos, Akinbiyi brings viewers closer to urban life in Africa and the migratory movements there.

He’s among the artists expected to show new works at documenta 14 currently ongoing in Kassel and Athens.

Otobong Nkanga

Nigerian Artists
Nigerian Artists

She is a visual artist, and performance artist born in Kano in 1974, but currently based in Paris and Antwerp. Nkanga’s artworks explore the notions of identity, the status of African women and the cultural peculiarities of Nigeria and have fetched her the $90,000 Yanghyun Prize in 2015  for artistic achievement.

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The award also offered her a chance to showcase a full exhibition at one of the world’s most renowned galleries or museums of the winner’s choice within 3 years of receiving the prize.

Her work (including books) has been featured in many institutions including the Tate Modern the KW Institute (Berlin), the Stedelijk Museum and the biennale of Sharjah.

Hopefully, Otobong Nkanga can bring her talent back home and thoroughly ignite the passion for contemporary arts among Nigerians especially the youths.

Emeka Ogboh

Nigerian Artists
Nigerian Artists

Born on May 14, 1977, in Enugu, Emeka Ogboh became a Nigerian sound and installation artist best known for his soundscapes of life in Lagos. He studied graphic design at University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and graduated in 2001.

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One of his works, “Lagos by Bus” is a recording of Lagos passengers travelling in the danfo buses, share taxis and molue minibuses characteristic of the city.

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Ogboh’s non-audio work uses iconography from Lagos city life. He participated in the DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program and 2015 Venice Biennale.

The 39-year old has also received the 2016 Bremen Böttcherstraße Art Award and some of his work has exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum, American National Museum of African Art, Menil Collection, Casino Luxembourg, and Kiasma.

Olu Oguibe

Nigerian Artists
Nigerian Artists

Famous for one of his books, ‘Nollywood Portraits,’ Olu Oguibe became a Professor of Art. He was born on October 14, 1964, precisely in Aba, Abia State, he moved to the US where he later gained nationality and Studied at the University of Connecticut, Storrs.

Wikipedia reports that Oguibe is a senior fellow of the Vera List Center for Art and Politics at the New School, New York City, and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC; an art historian and have been honoured with the State of Connecticut Governor’s Arts Award for excellence and lifetime achievement on 15 June 2013.

Apart from writing books and teaching, Oguibe has some artistic creation to display at one of the venues for the Documenta 14.


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