Collins Obijiaku: Gindin Mangoro – Under the Mango Tree
ADA \ contemporary art gallery, Accra, Ghana 15 Oct 2020 - 19 Nov 2020
(left) Collins Obijiaku, Molaya, 2020. Oil and charcoal on paper, 100 cm x 70 cm. (right) Collins Obijiaku, Gindin Mangoro, 2020. Acrylic, oil and charcoal on canvas, 180 cm x 160 cm.
Both images courtesy of the artist and ADA \ contemporary art gallery.
Marking its opening in Accra, Ghana, ADA \ contemporary art gallery unveils its inaugural exhibition, Gindin Mangoro: Under the Mango Tree, the debut solo presentation of Nigerian painter Collins Obijiaku (b. 1995). From October 15 to November 19, 2020, the gallery will present the emerging artist’s new body of work, a selection of 17 intimate portraits delving into notions of Blackness, lived experience, interiority and identity.
Debuting ADA’s program of curated exhibitions specializing in the work of emerging artists across Africa and its diaspora, Gindin Mangoro: Under the Mango Tree attests to the gallery’s engagement in supporting fresh talent across a diverse set of mediums, offering early career artists an opportunity to present a comprehensive portfolio of work.
On view within the gallery’s 850-square-meter space, the exhibition showcases a new body of work from Obijiaku’s eponymous portrait series, marking a radical departure from his previous work based on social commentary. A celebration of his own lived experiences and struggles and those of his friends and acquaintances, the paintings transcend accepted conceptions of portraiture and come to embody the profoundly human inner character of each of the artist’s subjects. Obijiaku creates vivid and poignant portraits, utilizing charcoal, textured brushstrokes and dactylograms to render each individual’s intimate history and complex personality. The concurrent and collinear lines, seemingly cartographic and filling the surface of the canvas with no obvious starting point nor known end, deliberately translate the unpredictable journey of each depicted life. Impressing notions of identity and of relationship to space through patterns and typography, the artist’s styled portraits compel the viewer to delve into a close, focused observation, and exert on him a dizzying embrace.
Furthermore, Obijiaku’s visual language plays with the now accepted theme of the profligacy, or shameless immorality, of image production in relation to Black figuration and representation. He disrupts the seemingly natural order of image production in portraiture by texturizing his portraits so as to suggest a form of expressionism that excludes all assumed or anticipated excess. His works do not speak to a representation of emotion. Moving beyond sociocultural constructs of gender, skin color and religion, the paintings are a homage to pure human existence, the expression of a shared desire to just be.
On view until November 19, 2020, the exhibition also extends digitally, complementing the gallery display with a multifaceted immersion into Obijiaku’s practice. A virtual viewing room and visit, as well as personal sketches and videos of the artist, these supporting materials offer an intimate insight into both his inspiration and his artistic process.
Gindin Mangoro: Under the Mango Tree is the first iteration of ADA’s program of dedicated solo and group exhibitions, off-site projects, talks, creative partnerships and more. In 2021, ADA will also launch a residency program bringing together a local Ghanaian artist and an international artist whose practice is rooted in Africa and its legacy. Cultivating a dialogue between local and international artists, the residency is a manifest to ADA’s engagement in nurturing Ghana and Africa’s emerging art community, while strengthening its ties and influence across global audiences.