Change is ever present in the work and life of Nigerian bred artist Ndidi Emefiele. Faced with a series of unexpected, insurmountable events since the dawn of her career a decade ago, Ndidi has risen time after time to reveal new modes of unconquerable expression.
Between love, loss, motherhood and life’s other loaded cycles, there are moods: The real, the observed, the imagined, and the hoped for. Each is brought to life via Ndidi’s tableaux vivants of young, old, shapely, slender, long-haired, short haired, light, dark, short, tall — Black women in all forms realized through collage, textiles and other traditional materials. Through them we see Black women of today, tomorrow, and of our past, but not in superhuman form nor to engender their motives beyond the now. They are full beings just as they are independently and in sisterhood. Bearing witness to them we come to understand moments of fear and severe focus. We share in their moments of solitude, rest and relaxation. We call forth more moments of Black girl joy and make space for their triumphs, too.
This virtual exhibition, entitled Unconquerable, offers a look back at a select body of work made by Ndidi Emefiele to date.
Drawing on cultural, gendered and personal references, Ndidi Emefiele creates layered figurative compositions that, dynamic in brush stroke and in juxtaposition of colour, conjure the complexity of contemporary experience and female identity. Emerging out of the Nigerian panorama, the strength of her narrative becomes even more pronounced as she encompasses collage, textiles and traditional materials conveying a strong sense of cultural heritage and aesthetics inspired by her homeland.
Ndidi Emefiele’s incredibly vivid canvases embrace a vision of women as strong, vibrant, self-confident characters who exist in relation to each other in a universe where the male is only noticed by his total absence. Her assertive figures make no attempt to fulfill male expectations. The depiction of enlarged heads which are traditionally said to control and predict one’s destiny, and the use of extravagant glasses or CD’s, become a recurring element objectifying the need for a shield against the world.
Ndidi Emefiele (b.1987) lives and works in North Hampton, UK.
She has exhibited widely both internationally and in the UK including solo/group presentations in Miami, New York, London, Chicago, Los Angeles, Lagos, Johannesburg and Abuja. Emefiele forms part of private collections such as The Deighton Collection, The Beth Rudin DeWoody Collection and The Jimenez – Colon Collection. Public collections in- clude: The Mint Museum, North Carolina, USA; The Nigerian Stock Exchange, Lagos, Nigeria and The University of South Africa, Cape Town. Impor- tantly, she was awarded with the prestigious ‘The Olive Prize 2016’ (Excellence in Painting, The Slade School of Fine Art) and was among the nominees of The Future Awards Africa 2016 for Arts & Culture. Recently, she presented her works at the Taubman Museum of Art, Roanoke, Virginia in 2018 as part of the exhibition “Reclamation! Pan-African Works” from the Beth Rudin DeWoody Collection. In 2020 Ndidi Emefiele’s works were included in the exhibition ‘Queen: From the Collection of CCH Pounder‘ at The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, Detroit and ‘The Cookout: Kinfolk and Other Intimacies’ at the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA) in New York.
Featured image above “Blue Room Dinner” by Ndidi Emefiele, 2016. *Photo by Luke Walker. Courtesy of Gallery Rosenfeld.
“Sizzling Susan” by Ndidi Emefiele, 2017.
Photo by Fabio Speranza. Courtesy of Gallery Rosenfeld.
“Sunday Bubbles 2” by Ndidi Emefiele, 2017.
Photo by Polly Tootal. Courtesy of Gallery Rosenfeld.
MoCADA is committed to giving wings to artists by bringing dynamic, contemporary African art to a broad audience through a series of highly visible artists’ projects, new commissions, installations, and exhibitions in public spaces, like this virtual gallery. Your support goes in a long way in helping MoCADA create exhibitions and other special programs that benefit the community. Click GiveMo to give a gift today.