Wonderland 2023, Lagos Nigeria
Affinity Gallery is pleased to present 'Wonderland', an exhibition of paintings and mixed media works by Kay Gasei, Uzo Njoku, Delphine Denereaz, Terence Maluleke and Ekene Stanley. The works in this exhibition place emphasis on what it means to traverse the world with an open-minded curiosity that allows for the constant questioning of the status-quo. Questions about identity, belonging, community, culture and our collective histories, are some of the conversations highlighted in this showcase; while also creating a wonderland of its own, a safe space that is accessible to all and fosters a spirit of wonder.
Delphine’s works invoke her time in Lagos where she wondered at the layers, intricacies and nuances of this complicated city. The juxtaposition of extremes co-existing, not exactly peacefully, takes one down a path with more questions than answers. Immersing herself in the experience nonetheless, and conflating her practice with those of local artisans and practitioners, her works highlight the soft (fabric), hard (metal) and hidden qualities of the city and its people. Using the age-old universal tradition of reusing household fabric to make things anew, she has cut, sewn, woven and melded together a myriad of feelings, expressions and cultures.
Ekene Stanley invites you into a world that mostly exists internally, where there are no limits and everyone is free to tell their own stories however they see fit. To achieve this, he strips his subjects of certain parts of their humanness and instead allows the viewer to fill in the blanks thereby making them a participant and creator in his world, and imbuing them with power and control; something that is so often lacking in the everyday lives of many. In doing so he grants permission for respite, curiosity and relief.
... Also highlighting the complexities of human interactions in his work, Kay Gasei uses materiality, a unique use of colour, and storytelling to capture internal musings that are also outward reflections of his life and society at large. Through his work, he asks pertinent questions of himself and the people around that triggers reflection and thought. His deft use of composition, space, and texture - using the reversed side of the canvas - as well as his use of white paint, giving his work an almost chalky finish and harkening to his background in illustration. His subjects are dealing with the very nature of their existence and its consequences. In “A Veil Over Everything Hides Nothing”, the figure of a woman wearing a veil with a child hiding under her skirts and with a bow in her hands is a metaphor for the protection and shelter that a mother provides for her child. Even though visually the focus is on the veil she’s wearing, the underlying emphasis is on the veil of protection she provides for her child who is tucked under her dress. His work pushes us further to wonder at the potential consequences that may come from completely shielding one’s child from the ills of the world.
The warm orange, golden yellow and reddish-brown hues in Maluleke’s works immediately pull focus. They wash over the eye, spreading outward and around until the feeling of being ensconced takes over. With hope being the central theme amid his tableaus of perfectly angular bodies of young men, bright colours, geometric shapes and the symbolic calla lily flower, Terence expertly and literally draws lines that overlap between vague abstraction, figuration and cubism with a splash of Bauhaus minimalism.
Uzo herself, as in her work, represents the rare quality of dynamism and multiplicity. Her tenacity and creativity which appear in different forms and across different mediums is reflected in her body of work. In her “Neighbourhood’ series, she offers glimpses into the lives being lived inside homes from an outside perspective peeking through windows. It is a strange feeling of being removed but also a part of something; more than a passing metaphor on the artist herself who straddles two worlds, homes and cultures living between New York and Lagos. The sometimes recurring figures in her paintings capture the beauty of connection and the familiarity of our relationships and interactions.