‘Emissaries of an Iconic Religion’ at Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos, is the first major solo exhibition in Nigeria of Adolphus Opara. The photographic series of portraits of diviners from the regions of South-Western Nigeria invoke the symbols and narratives of indigenous religious belief, as well as its relevance and function within the society.
Jude Anogwih , curator of the show: ‘Emissaries of an Iconic Religion is a multi-layered series of images resulting from Adolphus Opara’s sustained interactions with local custodians of indigenous belief systems in southwestern Nigeria.’ The composition of the images by Opara align closely with the formal photographic portraits of prominent Yoruba people in Nigeria as well as with the conventions of European portrait painting. These large-format, painterly images, imbued with luxuriant colours attempts to re-assert the importance and vitality of local belief systems, in spite of external pressures.
Adolphus Opara’s work is principally inspired by encounters with people and his commitment to expressing the exigencies and the challenges that characterise their daily realities. He uses visual story telling to show his empathy towards the issues with which he is confronted. Born 1981, Opara has exhibited widely locally and internationally. Recent exhibitions include – Contested Terrains, 2011, Tate Modern, African Photography Encounters, 2011, Bamako, Mali; The Tie That Binds Us, 2012, Tiwani Contemporary, London among others. He has undertaken assignements for notable organisations and his works have been published in magazines, books and websites including the BBC, World Press Photo ENTER, New African Magazine and Nigerians Behind the Lens, the first Fine Art Photobook showcasing contemporary photography from Nigeria.