Retro Africa presents A Different Perspective, a solo exhibition by Ken Nwadiogbu. Curated by Dolly Kola-Balogun and Maurice Chapot, the exhibition opens on Friday April 29th 2022 and will be on view until June 23rd at Retro Africa Gallery, Abuja, Nigeria. Featuring paintings, NFT’s and several installations.
As the UK recently announced in a dramatic statement the outsourcing of Asylum seekers to Rwanda for processing, migration took the light once again as a serious, and challenging matter of concern on the global stage. While mostly spoken of in the (western) news in terms of threatening vertical North/South interactions, movement of populations predominantly occur horizontally within the Global South, Africa also remaining the continent providing the smallest amount of migrants worldwide. Two bewildering facts that both the specific treatment reserved in the European press for African migrants, and the pervasive desire of so many Nigerians to leave the country keep antagonising,further impeding our collective capacity to tackle such intricate question.
In playful colours and simples forms, Ken Nwadiogbu critically addresses this sensitive subject,inviting us to embrace new perspectives. Using personified cardboard boxes as vivid metaphors of black migrants, he plays around with the parcels’ disposable nature, underlining the dehumanisation process at work in the migration politics. Like boxes, black bodies used to be stacked up in ships andtraded oversea. Today, these same bodies are paying fortunes to pile up in dreadful rafts, with the insane hope to reach alive the shore of a continent that keeps fighting them back. A paradox Nwadiogbu interrogates in his installation ‘Journey Mercies’, in dramatic staging, and collective play-out.
But before exploring any given theme, Nwadiogbu’s art remains primarily daring to the audience. Behind its appealing look, it is deeply reflective, proceeding from an intentional will to disturb,trigger, and enrich the viewer’s perspective. In the catchy monochromes trompe l’oeil of his Packages In Brown Skin series, he provides us with familiar moments of the typical Nigerian everyday to identify with ; but in the same movement, he stages the irruption of reality through the hyperrealist and fearless glance of a third character peeping through a cut-out silhouette from behind the canvas. Full with life, and determined to be seen, Nwadiogbu’s canvases scream out loud for us to notice, and let our mind wander inside a stranger’s shoes.
A Different Perspective is an invitation to get to grips with, and challenge our personal views on life and things. Mixing together a variety of mediums, ranging from the large monochromes illusions of his Packages In Brown Skin series, to his playful cardboard boxes installation Journey Mercies,Nwadiogbu pushes further the limits of his craft with theatrical staging, an experimental audio visual tribute to Lagos’s lifestyle, a spinning cube sculpture, and the release of five dynamic animated NFTs titled The Migrant, with the support of Nifty Gateway.
The Migrant is a collection of 100 NFTs. Released gradually at the fixed price of 1 ETH, The Migrant NFTs are unique bundles, each piece being sold together with its corresponding personified cardboard box sculpture, to be shipped to its primary buyer worldwide. The Migrant is part of the ongoing cross-reality project Journey Mercies, launched on the blockchain in November of 2021, and later continued in the physical world with critically acclaimed exhibitions in the UK, the US and Nigeria. Acknowledging the need for extending our perspectives,and widening our critical horizon, The Migrant project aims at contributing to build critical thinking and opportunities locally, to foster the emergence of a more caring, accepting and loving societies ; to help achieve this objective, 20% of the sale proceeds will help fund Five Cowries Initiative, a Nigerian NGO promoting art education as a tool to foster Critical Thinking, Communication, Collaboration and Creativity, through the implementation of art education programme country wide. Let’s take a step aside and embrace a different perspective.
With this exciting mix of colours and forms, Nwadiogbu provides us with a unique occasion to stepaside, and take a new look at both our collective and individual realities, for “the value lies in the perspective”.