Something Curated: African Artists’ Foundation Director Azu Nwagbogu On Curating ‘(Re)Pose’ At Galerie Ron Mandos
Curated by Azu Nwagbogu, Director of the African Artists’ Foundation, Amsterdam’s Galerie Ron Mandos presents (Re)Pose, an exhibition exploring the figurative paintings of South African artist WonderBuhle and Nigerian artist Eniwaye Oluwaseyi, running from 6 March–3 April 2021. Both painters unpack familial histories through portraiture, protesting forms of oppression and the misrepresentation of Black bodies throughout contemporary histories. The exhibition’s curator, Azu Nwagbogu tells Something Curated: “Re(Pose) really begins with a radical act of refusal. In the Netherlands, the treatment of issues of racial justice and the presentation of Black people in culture and society is somewhat behind the curve. Many still recently consider Blackface to be just some harmless fun, and cannot understand or relate to issues around social justice.”
WonderBuhle, born 1989 in South Africa, is a Durban-based visual artist from Kwa-Ngcolosi, a village that is still ruled by a chief. He started making art as a hobby at the age of nine. He says that his mother encouraged him to explore art as a career as he used to play with charcoal from the fire and draw stick figures on the walls of the house as a child.
WonderBuhle received his first formal training through the BAT Centre Artists in Residency (AIR) Program and went on to study fine art through the Velobala apprenticeship program at Durban University of Technology, under the mentorship of Themba Shibase.
The artist states: “I understand my artistic practice as a space between my inner soul, my dreams and my identity. I communicate my views from where I am standing as a black youth in South African society and the world at large. South Africa is in a moment of self-realization; reflecting and embracing its cultural diversities, whilst rewriting its stories through the lenses of young people who are curious, like myself.”
WonderBuhle had his first solo exhibition at the Durban Art Gallery in 2018 and has been included in numerous group shows at Unit, (London, 2020); The Art House (Wakefield, 2018); Michaelis Gallery (Cape Town, 2017); KZNSA (Durban, 2015) and the African Art Centre (Durban, 2014). In 2016, he was the recipient of Bremer Kunststipendium Art Grant (three-month residency) and in 2020; he took part in the La Brea Studio Artists Residency in L.A.
ABOUT Eniwaye Oluwaseyi
Eniwaye Oluwaseyi is a self-taught Nigerian artist from Kogi state. He holds a Bachelors in Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering from the University of Ilorin. His practice is primarily centered around portraiture and impressionistic realism, working with various media to portray individual narratives, as he believes everyone has a unique story to tell.
Oluwaseyi sees himself as a critic and an observer. His paintings are influenced by societal and political injustice, racial conflict and pressures of modern life. Working in oil, charcoal and acrylic on canvas, he uses bold and vivid colors representing human figures with visible and striking brush strokes to give his paintings a strong physical presence. “I try to combine unusual mediums to show I go beyond the borders of religion, race and tradition”, he says.
Eniwaye Oluwaseyi navigates through the intricate struggles that form the backbone of individual tales of existence, working with various media to tell the stories of individuals in society. His art works are impregnated with the struggles and experiences of individuals, evoking strong feelings of hope and redemption in the minds of viewers who connect with his pieces.