Spotlight: Nigerian Artist Arinze Ekwuide Explores the Myriad Facets of African Culture and History in an Online Solo Show

Presented by TAAG Gallery, "African Echoes: Exploring Identities Through Heritage" sees the artist explore the cultural fabric of Africa.

Arinze Ekwuide, HERITAGE EMBRACE I (2023). Courtesy of TAAG Gallery.

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What You Need to Know: On view through January 31, 2024, TAAG Gallery is presenting the online solo show of work by Arinze Ekwuide “African Echoes: Exploring Identities Through Heritage.” Comprised of more than a dozen new and recent paintings, the show traces Ekwuide’s exploration of the cultures, traditions, and histories found across Africa. Engaging with themes ranging from identity and self-discovery, unity and resilience, history and continuity, the artist translates these investigations through a vibrant palette and symbolic motifs to capture a sense of visual narrative. Together, the show is a celebratory homage to the African continent and all the people and elements that make up its richly diverse and spirited identity.

Why We Like It: Based in Lagos, Nigerian artist Arinze Ekwuide (b. 1992) gained widespread attention for his photorealistic graphite and charcoal pencil drawings, and the present exhibition of bold and colorful paintings offers compelling insight into the artist’s evolving practice and scope of creative inquiry. Often working in series, Ekwuide mines culturally relevant symbols, such as the African mask, to compose images that collectively create a new storyline or thread.

In works such as HERITAGE EMBRACE I (2023)—part of a series—the sitter’s contemporary streetwear is juxtaposed with the more traditional garb shown in the framed picture within a picture, highlighting the diversity of cultural attire and the evolution of self-expression. Similarly, each of Ekwuide’s works holds a unique visual lexicon full of symbolism and cultural references, offering viewers the opportunity to explore and discover the rich cultural fabric of African cultures.

According to the Gallery: “Arinze Ekwuide’s solo exhibition, ‘African Echoes: Exploring Identities Through Heritage,’ invites you on a captivating journey into the heart of Africa’s rich cultural tapestry. Through his art, Ekwuide delves deep into the essence of African heritage and its profound influence on the formation of individual and collective identities. ‘African Echoes’ is a celebration of the diverse cultures, traditions, and histories that make up the African continent. Ekwuide’s art delves into the stories passed down through generations, drawing inspiration from the vibrant colors, intricate patterns, and symbolic motifs found in African textiles, masks, and artifacts. Each piece serves as a visual narrative, intertwining the past and present to create a unique perspective on African identities.”

See featured works below.

Arinze Ekwuide, Untitled (2022). Courtesy of TAAG Gallery.

Arinze Ekwuide, Two girls and a bear (2022). Courtesy of TAAG Gallery.

Arinze Ekwuide, EMPOWERMENT AND GRACEFUL (2023). Courtesy of TAAG Gallery.

Arinze Ekwuide, RHYTHMS OF FREEDOM I (A TIMELESS TRIBUTE) (2023). Courtesy of TAAG Gallery.

Arinze Ekwuide, SELF LOVE III (2022). Courtesy of TAAG Gallery.

Arinze Ekwuide: African Echoes” is on view online through January 31, 2024.

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