Ayodeji Rotinwa


    ONE EVENING THIS PAST FEBRUARY, within the walls of DaDa, an exhibition space on the edge of Jemaa el-Fna, Marrakech’s historic market square, I heard a nostalgic cacophony.

    Nostalgic to me, at least.

    The noise instantly returned me to Lagos, home to twenty-one million people (myself included) who are always on the move, negotiating, thriving, and suffering in a city the size of which seems insufficient to contain all the life there. I could hear the familiar sounds of chart-topping music blasting from mobile speakers; the radio jingles for wonder drugs that cure cancer and aids; the voice of a

  • Curators Wunika Mukan, Bella Disu Adenuga, and Velentine Umansky with director Azu Nwagbogu, curator and creative director Charlotte Langhorst and curator Eva de Cavael at the private preview at The Adenuga building in Ikoyi.
    diary November 24, 2018

    Rush Hour

    FOR THE NINTH EDITION of the annual LagosPhoto Festival, “Time Has Gone,” twenty-three artists hailing from Myanmar to Madagascar displayed their works across ten venues in Nigeria’s commercial capital. The four curators—Eva Barois De Caevel, Charlotte Langhorst, Wunika Mukan, and Valentine Umansky—invited participants to take up the idea of nostalgia, reinterpret the past, investigate archival practices, and, essentially, try to slow down time: an impossible twist on the festival’s themes. To my mind, the show primarily offered one thing: uncertainty.

    It all started out promisingly

  • Modupeola Fadugba, Pink Honey, 2018, acrylic, graphite, and ink on burnt paper, 51 × 72".

    Modupeola Fadugba

    Had Modupeola Fadugba’s latest exhibition, “Dreams from the Deep End,” opened in New York (where it drew its inspiration and subject matter), it would have been hard to see it as about anything but the racial politics of water and swimming in America. With a series of gold-leaf-on-burnt-paper paintings hung on ocean-blue gallery walls (all accompanied by a documentary short), Fadugba told the story of the Harlem Honeys and Bears, an age-fifty-and-older synchronized swim team. Many of the team’s members are in their seventies and eighties, and most began to swim for the first time only in their

  • Artist Zanele Muholi and friends.
    diary September 19, 2018

    Fair and Folly

    “I HOPE IT ISN’T TOO DISTURBING,” a well-dressed white woman said to her friend as they considered whether to enter a sound installation about police violence at the Eleventh Joburg Art Fair earlier this month. The installation, placed right by the entrance to the fair, was the work of Haroon Gunn-Salie, the 2018 winner of the fair’s annual FNB Art Prize. It featured a black box in which an immersive soundscape was suspended from the ceiling, making listeners feel as if they were underground. We sat on the floor, and soon the voices of mine workers washed over us, in an anti-apartheid protest

  • Andrew Esiebo, Marina, 2018, ink-jet print, 39 × 59".

    Andrew Esiebo

    In Accra, Ghana; Lagos, Nigeria; or Dakar, Senegal; beneath bridges under construction, on market streets choked with carts, merchants, and customers, in open palace courtyards, at dusk, on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, glory is a round leather ball kicked successfully into a net—even if the ball is a makeshift version formed of crumpled paper or tin cans bound together by tape. Little children, teenagers, or young adults are usually the players. They are following the tradition of a sport beloved across the continent. They toss the ball in the air, move it nimbly among themselves, on

  • picks May 17, 2018

    Abraham Oghobase

    Abraham Oghobase is making an understatement. In “No Matter Who You Are,” an exhibition of photographs shot from 2007 to 2016, a story unfolds tentatively at first, with careful restraint. The artist is showing something by barely telling anything.

    Oghobase is his own subject in these mostly monochrome images. We see him suspended over skyscapes, against an azure sky; washed into seascapes, in a cascade of frothy waves; soaring above land and over a bushy shoreline. At first glance, the works are easily mistaken as ones of mere beauty, of man imprinted in nature. But look again. This is a story

  • Ibe Ananaba, Give us this day our daily fuel (4), 2018, acrylic on canvas, 40 x 50''.
    picks April 21, 2018

    Ibe Ananaba

    Ibe Ananaba does not suffer metaphors. For his latest exhibition, “Long-Drawn Shadows,” Ananaba—who has explored fashion and the rise of social media—continues to document contemporary Nigerian culture. This show finds him working within a geopolitical framework, as he pays close attention to Nigeria’s problematic natural resource: oil. There are no doubts about his thoughts on the topic; the works’ titles and scenes leave little room for the viewer to interpret meaning outside what the artist has clearly intended.
    Watercolors of men and women in pensive, broody poses welcome the viewer. They