Wole Lagunju (1966- )

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Lagunju’s work is associated with Onaism, a contemporary art movement of the Ife Art School dedicated to reimagining the forms and philosophies of traditional Yoruba art and design. He often pairs this influence with a clash of diverse cultural notions exploring post-colonial hierarchies and hybridisation from the African continent. His work critiques the racial and social structures of the 19th century whilst evoking contemporary commentaries on power, femininity, and womanhood.

Wole was awarded a Phillip Ravenhill Fellowship by UCLA in 2006 and a Pollock Krasner award in 2009. He currently lives in the United States and works are included in the Denver Art Museum, St Louis Art Museum and the World Bank, amongst others.

“My paintings of Yoruba Gelede masks juxtaposed with classical and iconic Western imagery explore the notions of race, femininity, womanhood and sexuality. They are also meant to be contemporary redefinitions of traditional Yoruba visual art. Gelede (Ge means to ‘pet or tenderly deal with’; ele refers to a woman’s genitalia and de, ‘to soften them with gentleness’) is a male dance by which men celebrate women, their physical attributes, sacred powers and motherhood. I have chosen therefore, to celebrate the masks by making visual compositions of ‘new’ Gelede masquerades dressed in the ceremonial regalia of the Western world. In doing this, I mean to critique, racial and cultural stereotypes and ideology. These are values and stereotypes that generate assumptions of a dominant cultural prerogative and singular historical perspective within issues of power and gender and identity.”


Solo Exhibitions

‘Cut from The Same Cloth’, Ed Cross Gallery, London, United Kingdom
‘What Will You Do with Your Own Aje?’, Montague Contemporary, New York, United States of America

‘We All Live Here’, The Gramophone Works, London, United Kingdom

Payne Gallery, Moravian College, Pennsylvania, USA

‘Yoruba Remixed’, EBONY/CURATED, Cape Town, South Africa

Selected Group Exhibitions

‘Africa Supernova’, Museum Kade, Amersfoort, Netherlands
Investec Cape Town Art Fair, EBONY/CURATED, South Africa

Investec Cape Town Art Fair, EBONY/CURATED, South Africa

'Stop, Listen!’, CFHILL, Stockholm, Sweden

1-54 London, Montague Contemporary, USA
Investec Cape Town Art Fair 2020, EBONY/CURATED, Cape Town, South Africa

AKAA (Also Known As Africa), Paris, France
'Diaspora’, New Ashgate Gallery, Surrey, United Kingdom
‘A Smaller Scale’, EBONY/CURATED, Cape Town, South Africa

‘Recits d”Afrique’, La Galerie Africaine, Paris, France
‘Colourchart’, EBONY/CURATED, Cape Town, South Africa
‘Tempo, expo d’Art contemporain’, Cloitre des Billettes, Paris, France

‘Opening Exhibition: Furious Flower Conference, Seeding the future of African ‘American Poetry’,
James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virginia, USA
‘Wole Lagunju: African Diaspora Artist and Transnational Visuality’, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virginia, USA

‘Womanscape: Race, Gender and Sexuality in African Art’, University of Texas, Austin Texas, USA

‘Egungun: Diaspora Recycling’, University of Texas, Austin Texas, USA

‘Africa Now’, The World Bank Art Program, Washington DC, USA
‘Healing Beauty’, The Mizel Museum, Denver, Colorado, USA
‘Art for Africa’, Juried Exhibition, The Emerson Centre for the Arts and Culture, Bozeman, Montana, USA

‘African Artists Celebrating Ethiopian Millennium’, The Belvedere, Baltimore USA Mbari Art, Washington DC, USA

‘Let’s Art Nadine Guntert meets Africa’. Vernissage: Bilder von Mauva Lessor, Osahenye Kainebi,
Wole Lagunju, Ablade Glover, Stein-und Holzskulpturen, Luzern. Switzerland.
‘The Art of Oshogbo’, Via Mundi Gallery, Atlanta USA

Pan African Film and Arts Festival, Los Angeles, USA

'Without Borders- Four Contemporary Artists’, Pan African University, Ajah, Lagos

Afrika Heritage, Lagos
‘Linkages’, Gallery 1,2,3,4, Trinidad and Tobago, USA
TotalfinaElf Art Exhibition, Port Harcourt, Nigeria

‘Visions and Sensibilities’, Signature Art Gallery, Lagos

‘Best of Ife’, Goethe Institut, Lagos

Sammlung fur Neue Afrikanische Kunst, Afrika Haus Freiberg
Ona – Best of Ife- Signature Art Gallery, Lagos

‘Best of Ife’, Signature Art Gallery, Lagos
‘Linkages’, Gallery 1,2,3,4, Trinidad and Tobago

1986 BFA Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria
2004 Philip L Ravenhill Fellowship, UCLA, Los Angeles, California

Grants and Awards

2023 Northern Trust Purchase Prize, Expo Chicago
2009 Pollock Krasner Foundation Award


Forbes (2020) “1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair” | Artsy (2020) “An Art Advisor’s Guide to Collecting during London’s Fair Week“ | LeMonde (2020) “Important sale of contemporary African art in Paris” | Luxury Defined (2020) “5 Contemporary African Artists to Know About Now“
Artsy – Artists To Discover If You Like Barkley Hendricks
The Curator Mag – Wole Lagunju – Painting Back To The Empire
1-54 Studio Visit Series: Wole Lagunju
Wole Lagunju – Harpers Bazaar Arabia Winter 2019

Public Collections

Saint Louis Art Museum, Missouri, United States of America
African First Collection, Jaffa, Israel
Collection Leridon, Paris, France
Denver Art Museum, Colorado, United States of America
World Bank, Washington DC, United States of America
Foundation Frances, New Jersey, United States of America
Marres Huis voor Hedendaagse Cultuur, Netherlands, Europe

Works by Wole Lagunju (1966- )

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