Art Twenty One, Lagos, Nigeria 08 Nov 2016 - 10 Jan 2017
Namsa Leuba, Damien, from the series NGL , 2015 Fibre pigment print on Dibond 47 1/5 × 34 1/10 in 120 × 86.5 cm GALLERY: Art Twenty One, Lagos
Art Twenty One presents, Ethnomodern a solo exhibition by Swiss- Guinean artist Namsa Leuba, opening 5th November , 2016. As the first large-scale solo exhibition of Leuba’s work, this exhibition brings together the artist’s diverse photographic practice that spans documentary, fashion and performance.
Namsa Leuba’s photography examines the representation of African identity through the Western imagination. Ethnomodern, the title of the exhibition, reflects the plurality of Leuba’s practice in both her aesthetic and thematic concerns. Her world combines a journalistic portrayal, theatre, spectacle and the imaginary. In the interplay between these eclectic bodies of work, Leuba’s work toes the line to portray African tradition in a wholly fantastic and contemporary light.
Ethnomodern will include the presentation of Namsa Leuba’s newest series, NGL, produced in 2015 during the artist’s residency with Art Twenty One in Lagos. NGL, an acronym for Next Generation Lagos, explores the innovation and creativity of Nigeria’s youth culture. Leuba was inspired by the energy of the city of Lagos – its chaos, vibrancy, and determination – translating this spirit into a unique visual metaphor. The artist collaborated with local fashion designers and models in Lagos, often times sourced from the street, to create a potpourri collection of clothes, props and accessories. Nigerian fashion designers featured in this series include I.AM.ISIGO, Tzar Studios, Maxivive, Tokyo James, Adeju Thompson, Re Bahia, Torlowei and Deco. Staged in the studio, Leuba imagines narratives for the characters she portrays through a surrealist and psychedelic filter. NGL will be shown in its entirety for the first time after debuting its preview at the Armory Show in New York in March 2016.
Ethnomodern also includes multiple projects executed over the last five years that highlight the artist’s complex visual language. Leuba’s seminal series, Ya Kala Ben, explores ritual artifacts and statuettes that are common to the cosmology of Guineans in their ceremonial structure. In The Kingdom of Mountains, Khoisan and Zulu Kids series, all three of which were created in South Africa in 2014, Leuba continues her experiments in the constructed image, a reflection of the artist’s own art direction that explores the thematics of cultural hybridity as she, like many, negotiates the duality of her heritage.
This exhibition also includes the artist’s work in fashion photography. In the Cocktail series, created for WAD Magazine, Leuba comments on the cultural imaginary of Africa where props, pose and mood speak to questions of exoticism and authenticity. In The African Queens, created for New York Magazine, Leuba explores the representation of the African “queen” as a hero, prophet and warrior. The more recent series, Tonköma (created for the Edun fashion label) and King (produced for Christian Lacroix) combine masks, jewelry, fabrics and statues that are inspired by notions of power, strength, and nobility.
Ethnomodern presents, for the first time, the full collection of Namsa Leuba’s work.