An emerging portraitist in search of new postures and perspectives on the African continent
WORDS BY NAVYA POTHAMSETTY | ABUJA | VISUAL ARTS
FEB 23, 2023 | ISSUE 11
Collins Obijiaku in studio - Courtesy of the artist and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles, CA
Collins Obijiaku’s portraits are relatively simple: a profile of a single person against a simple background. Born in the Kaduna region in northern Nigeria, the internationally-exhibited, self-taught artist is now based just north of Abuja─the strategically central capital of the nation. The deceptively simplified surfaces of Obijiaku’s creations belie miles of depth beneath the facade of their sartorial expression, and the identities assumed in their skin complexion. Captivated at first glance, the Obijiaku viewer is invited to observe, on closer inspection, how small differences in clothing, posture, and gaze animate two-dimensional portraits to vivid life.
Obijiaku’s stock has been slowly rising in recent years and across the international circuit of galleries that regularly host diasporic portraitists, such as Kehinde Wiley. In 2020, Obijiaku was invited to participate in the second year of Kehinde Wiley’s Black Rock artist residency program in Dakar, Senegal, a placement that further contributed to his acclaim as one...