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VICTOR EKPUK – The Symbolism of Nsibidi

3 Apr

The Symbolism of Nsibidi

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Article Published: Mar. 28 | Modified: Mar. 29

The Symbolism of NsibidiArtist Victor Ekpuk stands before one of his works, ‘Composition #1.’ Ekpuk will present a live drawing performance at ASU’s Turchin Center for the Visual Arts in Boone April 3 and 4. Image courtesy of Victor Ekpuk

“Nsibidi” is the philosophy where sign systems are used to  convey ideas. Nigerian artist Victor Ekpuk uses symbols from the traditional African  writing system, such as nsibidi, along with designs he coins and others he’s gathered from the world  around him to create his artwork.
The script that results from this is meant to create a  feeling and understanding of the human experience. One symbol in a painting or drawing can represent  a concept and make a statement; many symbols can form a narrative about life in the contemporary  world.
Ekpuk will be holding a two-day drawing performance in the Turchin Center for the  Visual Arts’ Mayer Gallery April 3 and 4, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with a break between 12:30 and  1:30 p.m. All visitors are welcome to stop by anytime during these hours to watch him in the  gallery.
His exhibition, “Drawing Memories,” opens at the Turchin Center on April 5 during the Spring Exhibition Celebration being held from 7 to 9 p.m. For more information on the opening, visit

About Victor Ekpuk

Ekpuk holds  a BFA from the University of Ife in Nigeria and was an illustrator for several years at a major  Nigerian newspaper.

While he began with an exploration of “traditional symbols,” his work  has evolved to embrace a wider spectrum of meaning that is equally rooted in African and global  contemporary art. The subject matter of Ekpuk’s art deals with the human condition explained through  themes that are both universal and specific: family, gender, politics, culture and  identity.

His works have been featured at the first Johannesburg Biennale in South Africa;  Smithsonian Institution National Museum of African Art, Washington, D.C.; New Museum in New York;  Newark Museum, New Jersey; Yerba Buena Art Center, San Francisco; Barbican Gallery, London; Fowler  Museum at UCLA, Los Angeles; and the World Bank, Washington, D.C., among others.

Currently,  Ekpuk works from his studio in Washington, D.C., and some of his artworks are in the collection of  the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Newark Museum, the World Bank and private  collections.