Jul 27, 2021 1 min, 37 secs
Three Black artists, African and African American, explore common lineage and traditions.

Wake up!’” said Victor Ehikhamenor, a Nigerian multidisciplinary artist, to the Guardian.

His body of work, which encompasses large-scale tapestries, metalwork and pointillism portraits, is featured in the new exhibition Retro Africa: Do This in Memory of Us, a collaboration between the Nigerian gallery Retro Africa and New York-based gallery Lehmann Maupin that gives the viewer the opportunity to question and possibly reframe history.

Retro Africa: Do This in Memory of Us features three Black artists, Chéri Samba, Nate Lewis and Ehikhamenor, and is curated by Retro Africa gallery owner Dolly Kola-Balogun.

Through the exhibition, Kola-Balogun, a 27-year old UK-born Nigerian gallerist, curator and hotelier, endeavors to remove the voyeuristic lens of Africa and center Africans in the storytelling, shifting from a historically colonial perspective to a contemporary, autonomous one.

I really hope that people commit to it with an open mind,” says Ehikhamenor.

Nate Lewis, the only African American artist in the exhibition, is inspired by patterns and rhythms as well as music.

As he suggests, the show bridges the gap between the past and present, between anglophones and francophones, between the told story of Africa and the lives lived by Africans, between the internationally neglected African art scene and America, a place which Kola-Balogun believes can open up the international market for contemporary African art.

“[Americans] only understand contemporary African art through the lens of Europeans,” she said.

She started the gallery as a way to center contemporary African art, remarking, “I had a preconceived idea of what African art was and that’s just largely due to a failure of institutional growth in my region,” she said.

For Lewis, the exhibition serves as a support to the Black community.

You have to believe in your community,” Lewis said.

“There’s been blocks of time of history that haven’t been paid attention to,” Lewis said

It is progress,” said Lewis


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