Tag Archives: Contemporary Nigerian Art

VICTOR EKPUK’s “Auto-Graphics” exhibition at Krannert Art Museum featured in Contemporary And

16 Jan

contemporary and logo


composition 1Victor Ekpuk Composition No. 1 (detail), 2009 Graphite and pastel on paper Courtesy of the artist and Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of African Art © Victor Ekpuk

24 January 2014 – 27 July 2014 /

Auto-Graphics: Recent Drawings by Victor Ekpuk

Krannert Art Museum and Kinkead Pavilion, Champaign, IL, United States

Krannert Art Museum and Kinkead Pavilion (KAM) presents  Auto-Graphics: Recent Drawings by Victor Ekpuk from January 24 through July 27, 2014. The artist will be present at the exhibition opening public reception, which will be held on Thursday, January 23 from 6–7 pm, and will return to KAM on March 13 to give a gallery conversation.

Nigerian-born artist Victor Ekpuk is best known for his improvisational use of nsibidi, a form of ideographic writing associated with the powerful Ekpe men’s association of southeastern Nigeria. As a student of fine arts at Obafemi Awolowo University in Ife in the mid-1980s, Ekpuk worked in a pedagogical environment informed by onaism, a Yorùbá aesthetic philosophy that urged students to explore the logics of pattern and design in indigenous African art forms. Ekpuk’s early fascination with nsibidi during these years—its economy of line and encoded meanings—led to his broader explorations of drawing as writing, and to the invention of his own fluid letterforms. As a mature artist, Ekpuk has so internalized the rhythm and contours of his “script” that it flows from his hand like the outpouring of a personal archive.

In recent years, Ekpuk’s approach to mark making has come to flourish through his investigations of scale, motion, surface, and form. Auto-Graphics features selections from several of Ekpuk’s new bodies of work, including collage, digital prints, and his supersized drawings—bold, vibrant, yet restrained compositions in which nsibidi signs are cropped, abstracted, and glided beyond the frame through the illusion of magnification. Their dense grounds of micro-script and bristling opaque forms contrast with the more figural works on view. Ekpuk’s compositions are not tentative or ambivalent, and are drawn with no erasure. Like nsibidi, which communicates through both visual mark and gesture, Ekpuk’s immersive drawings seem to be choreographed with the full force of his body. This will become readily evident to visitors when, upon entering the museum, they are greeted by one of Ekpuk’s works drawn directly onto the gallery wall—an ample surface on which to explore the infinite potential and ephemeral fate of the hand-drawn line.

Victor Ekpuk has held numerous residencies at art institutes and universities throughout the US and in Nigeria, the Netherlands, and France. He currently lives and works in Washington D.C.

The exhibition is curated by Allyson Purpura and sponsored in part by the Lorado Taft Lectureship on Art Fund/College of Fine + Applied Arts and Krannert Art Museum and partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.


Krannert Art Museum and Kinkead Pavilion

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

College of Fine and Applied Arts

500 E. Peabody Drive | Champaign, IL 61820

p. 217 333 1861 | f. 217 333 0883 | kam.illinois.edu


VICTOR EKPUK in Washington Post – Arts Section

8 Oct

Sunday, October 6th, 2013

by Mark Jenkins

Three Wise Men, Courtesy of the Artist

Three Wise Men (triptych), 1996, acrylic on panel, 48″x20″ each panel, photo credit: John Woo


Victor Ekpuk

The writing that fills Victor Ekpuk’s drawings, paintings and mixed-media works has literal meaning, but most visitors to Morton Fine Art’s “Reminiscences & Current Musings” will be able to read only two words: the Nigerian-born D.C. artist’s name. He works it into the other text — which is in Nsibidi, an ancient West African system of ideographs — much the way he adds glimmers or blocks of color to his mostly black and white work.

Ekpuk doesn’t mind that the glyphs are obscure. The narratives in his works, he writes, can be “better perceived when they are felt rather than read literally.” Sometimes the text frames circles, usually rendered in bold blues or red-oranges, that suggest such elemental presences as the moon and the sun. This show features mostly recent works, but includes a few pieces that date as far back as 1996; some of them draw more directly on African folk art. Yet if such robust recent pieces as “Composition 11” seem more universal, they’re still framed by symbols that are rooted in a specific place and tradition.

Victor Ekpuk: Reminiscences &
Current Musings

On view through Oct. 8 at
Morton Fine Art, 1781 Florida Ave. NW; 202-628-2787; www.mortonfineart.com



Jenkins is a freelance writer.

VICTOR EKPUK’s solo exhibition “Reminiscences and Current Musings” opens September 13, 2013 at Morton Fine Art

13 Aug

Save the date!

September 13th – October 8th, 2013: “Reminiscences and Current Musings” a solo exhibition by VICTOR EKPUK, featuring a rare collection of his artwork from 1996-2013.

Artist talk: Saturday, September 28th from 4pm-6pm

Featured:  Victor Ekpuk’s “Vigilante 2”

Vigilante 2 web



VICTOR EKPUK – The Symbolism of Nsibidi

3 Apr

The Symbolism of Nsibidi

Story Submitted (mtfrontdesk@mountaintimes.com)

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 http://www.tcva.org/calendar/events/826.

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.

VICTOR EKPUK’s Artist Talk at UMUC Sunday, 24 Feb 2013 from 3-5pm

9 Feb
Don’t miss this exciting 4 month exhibition (February 12-May 12, 2013) titled Diaspora Dialogue: Art of Kawbena Ampofo-Anti, Alexander Boghassian and Victor Ekpuk at UMUC (University of Maryland University College)!
Bicycle Song, 17.5"x12", acrylic & ink on paper

Bicycle Song, 17.5″x12″, acrylic & ink on paper

UMUC, 3501 University Boulevard East, Adelphi, Maryland
Artist Reception & Discussion: Sunday 24, February, 2013. 3:00PM-5:00PM
“Ethiopian painter Skunder Boghossian (1937-2003) is exemplary of African modernism’s Pan-Africanist ideological ambitions, its multilayered signification on diverse ancient and modern African, European, Arab and New World artistic and cultural traditions”. … – Chika Okeke-Agulu.
“Ghanian born, Ampofo-Anti’s sculptures are insistently architectonic, with each of them assuming the form of a mysterious tower or monument. But even as they seem to be products of a pure architectural fantasy, they also bear telling marks—in both their form and subject matter—of the artist’s capacious meditation on architectural models from Africa and the Americas”. – Chika Okeke-Agulu
“Nigerian artist Victor Ekpuk tests the limits of this afro-modernist heritage, even as it shows new possibilities of afrological aesthetics in the age of globalization. Ekpuk, like bebop artists in the United States, developed an improvisatory aesthetics but the motivations for this were different.         Where the formal tactics of bebop derives in part from the longstanding strive to forge a black art and culture from the European, African, Native American cultures brought into intense proximity by transcontinental migration, colonization, and slavery, Ekpuk’s script-based paintings and drawing-performances inspired by nsibidi ideographic forms from southeastern Nigeria anchors him to a specific historical and symbolic place and thus allows him to differentiate his work from a myriad of other similar conceptual and formal practices in the globalized, contemporary art world.” – Chika Okeke-Agulu.
“If there is anything the art of Boghossian, Ampofo-Anti, and Ekpuk tells us, it is that works of art reflect the complex, multiple consciousness and diversely constituted identities of the artists. It inevitably compels us to ponder anew that memorable question posed nearly a century ago by Countee Cullen, the Harlem Renaissance poet: “What is Africa to me?” To the extent that their individual responses are inscribed in their art, it is safe to say that as with their African American counterparts past and present, Africa remains for its artists a site of powerful imaginaries, a historical place to which they are bound by ancestry, and an idea that elicits powerful aesthetic and symbolic action”. – Chika Okeke-Agulu
Full color catalogue with essay by Chika Okeke-Agulu, MFA, PhD Dept. of Art & Archaeology / Center for African American Studies Princeton University

Get to know Nigerian-born artist OSI AUDU

22 Jan
“The dualism of the tangible and intangible is an area of focus in my work…I find scientific, philosophical, and cultural concepts about the nature of consciousness, and the mind/body relation very fascinating. For example, the Yoruba people of Western Nigeria, believe that consciousness, referred to as the head, has both a physical dimension called the outer head, and a spiritual one, the inner head, and that it originates from a place referred to as eternity. It is the visual implications of some of these concepts that I explore in my work.

In my diptych paintings made with acrylic, wool, and graphite on canvas, I use abstract geometric forms that evoke the human head to present the sheer beauty of color and texture in a way that can be viscerally felt, as well as responded to psycho-physiologically by the eyes; and invite viewers to consider the process of visual perception:

If the viewer stares fixedly at the center of the painted panel on the left for about ten seconds, and then transfers gaze to the center of the drawn panel on the right, an after-image will appear in the complementary colors.

OSI AUDU, Figure I_Outer and Inner Self, Green and Blue, 2012, acrylic,wool and graphite on canvas, Diptych, each panel 24x24 ins

OSI AUDU, Figure I_Outer and Inner Self, Green and Blue, 2012, acrylic,wool and graphite on canvas, Diptych, each panel 24×24 ins


My graphite and black pastel drawings titled self-portrait and sequentially numbered, in which I explore the chromatic, light absorbing and reflecting qualities of both mediums, are more about the portrait of the self – that intangible essence of being, and the head as a container of memory, dreams, ideas, and aspirations. ”

-Osi Audu

 OSI AUDU, Self-Portrait I, 2012, graphite and pastel on paper, 23 x 30 ins

OSI AUDU, Self-Portrait I, 2012, graphite and pastel on paper, 23 x 30 ins


Newark Museum

The British Museum

The Horniman Museum

The National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, USA

Wellcome Trust London

National Gallery, Lagos

Nigerian High Commission, London

Iwalewa-Haus, Universitat Bayreuth, Germany

Schmidtbank, Bayreuth, Germany

Addax and Oryx Group, Switzerland

Swiss Embassy, Lagos


26 Jun

Check out these 4 new arrivals by Nigerian born artist VICTOR EKPUK.

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“The central theme of my work is the exploration of the relationships, challenges and responses to changes that characterize the human condition. Of particular interest to my project is Nsibidi, an indigenous African system of writing that employs graphic signs, and codes to convey concepts. Inspired by this ancient writings, forms in my works are reduced to basic essence resulting in new symbols or codes in script-like drawings that are used to express contemporary experiences. When combined with Nsibidi signs, these “scripts” also provide the background narrative to my compositions. Most often these narrative are better perceived when they are felt rather than read literally.”

-Victor Ekpuk on his inspiration

Please contact MFA for available artwork.