'Soliloquy' - Kelechi Nwaneri

Collection: 'Soliloquy' - Kelechi Nwaneri

Kelechi Nwaneri
13.02.24 - 09.03.24

Kelechi Charles Nwaneri, a Nigerian-born mixed media artist, explores through his introspective yet surreal lens, the intricate cultural landscape of his home- the vibrant city of Lagos- as it meets and merges with the multicultural influences of the world. His crafted and considered compositions thoughtfully position figures in captured scenes from his lived reality, initiating meaningful conversations on themes such as Social Values, History, Mental Health, and the delicate interplay between humanity and its environment.

Embarking on his artistic journey within the realm of Pencil Hyperrealism, Nwaneri's skills have evolved as he has expanded his artistic repertoire to encompass various mediums such as acrylic paints, collages, watercolours, and oil paints. Through these materials, he develops his signature style which infuses traditional West African Iconography with imagery from his contemporary life. This style, best described as Contemporary Surrealism, imbues his creations with a mystical and metaphysical essence. A self-identity which draws a broader imagined social context and challenges our ways of seeing.

A recurrent thematic element in Nwaneri's body of work is the Black Hybrid Figure, a component that fosters new ways of being in the world- a conceptual freeing of oneself from historical ‘othering’. These hybrid figures traverse into the realm of spirituality, as Nwaneri reflects:

"A distinctive thread that weaves through my creations is the 'Hybrid (Black) Figure,' a concept rooted in the symbolism of scars and tribal marks. These figures bear a tapestry of symbols, prominently featuring Adinkra, Uli, and Nsibidi symbols, automatic lines, and Adire patterns."

The depiction of these figures with markings on their skin finds its roots in the tradition of ‘Scarification’ which is still prevalent in various African communities, such as the Igbo region of Nigeria. In the Igbo community, this process is known as Ichi or Igbo Uli body markings, which involves painting the skin with specific signs. These symbols serve as visual narratives, marking unfolding stories that offer insights into each character, or simply existing for ornamental purposes.

In this latest body of work, the artist parallels these traditional methods with the act of tattooing in Western cultures to reflect the multiculturalism of the artist’s current milieu. The landscapes depicted in Nwaneri's oeuvre authentically encapsulate the venues and environments that constitute his immediate surroundings, rendering each composition a nuanced reflection of his lived experiences and artistic musings. ‘Soliloquy’, is the artist’s second solo exhibition with EBONY/CURATED currently on show in our Cape Town gallery.

Works on exhibition

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