Olu Amoda's sculpture has always sparked critical engagement with the public due to his ability to create engaging works that address some of the relevant issues of our time, as it attempts to investigate how individual perspective and reality is influenced by societal group consciousness, treating memory as a cultural rather an individual faculty. To the artist, art must engage individuals in a very deep and personal way, and in ways that may not be shared by every member of the society, art also can forge common bonds among various groups and since the creative process is always a collaboration of some kind or another, strive to create something that matters not only to oneself, but to others as well.
Born in Onitsha, Nigeria in 1954, Uwechia grew up in Enugu, Nigeria. She studied art in the University of Ife, and specialized in painting. She set an academic record in her department by winning the distinguished Faculty Prize in her graduating year. She has lived and worked in Akure and Lagos as well as Ife, and is presently residing in New York. Her paintings are in private collection in Nigeria, Canada, and United States.
Ndidi Dike, art consultant and cultural activist trained at University of Nigeria, Nsukka, with a major in painting, but taught herself to sculpt. She assumes and occupies the role of a pathfinder to new understandings and methods of trans-signification of form elements and meanings.
Born in 1958 in Port-au-Prince, Hërsza Barjon, also known as “Hëza,” began painting as an adolescent. She studied with two of Haiti’s internationally renowned artists—the late Bernard Séjourné (1954-1994) and Jean-Claude Legagneur—and began to paint what critics have described as “visual literature,” “Colors that Speak,” and “Shapes that Implore.” She has had a number of solo exhibitions in Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Port Au Prince, Montreal, and Chicago.
El Anatsui is recognised as one of the foremost contemporary artists of his generation. Taking the broad spectrum of indigenous African cultures as an extended canvas, his central themes concern the erosion of these inherited traditions by powerful external forces and the manner of their survival and transmission into the present. His deftly-organised and sophisticated work represents an original synthesis of the many diverse histories of African art with more modern influences picked out from the prevailing paradigm of contemporary western art. In 2007 El Anatsui exhibited at the 52nd Venice Biennale with a site-specific installation. He transformed one of Venices most celebrated Gothic landmarks, wrapping the façade of the Palazzo Fortuny in a vast metal cloth woven from thousands of glimmering bottle caps. As part of the Big Art Project El Anatsui become the third artist to put his unique stamp on The Big 4, the installation that brings Channel 4’s logo to life on the steps of the channel’s Horseferry Road headquarters in 2008.
A matriarch of African-American art, Evangeline Juliet Montgomery is a printmaker, metal-smith and weaver. Her interest in art dates back to age fourteen when she received an oil painting set as a gift. Completing high school, she painted faces on dolls from 1951-53 before moving with her husband to Los Angeles, where she attended City College and received a BFA from the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland.
Charles Smith is a well-known and well-liked Mobile, AL, potter who began his career in the early 1970’s: “I began studying art after a tour of duty in Vietnam, the trauma surrounding the war made me want to pursue the arts.” He has exhibited all over the country, including the National Museum of American Art in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, and the American Craft Museum in New York City.
Asa was born in Paris. Her early life in the City of Light left the little girl with only the vaguest of (happy) memories, since she was no more than two years old when her family returned to live in Nigeria. Paris was just one stage in the life of her courageous and hard-working parents. But her fate was tied up with the city: it was to Paris that Asa returned twenty years later and where her life as an artist took wing.
Photographs by Benoit Peverelli.