new-york

Uche Okeke, Nok Suite – Bornu Woman, 1958, ink on paper, 7 1/2 × 5". From “Nok Suite,” 1958–59.

Uche Okeke

Skoto Gallery

Uche Okeke, Nok Suite – Bornu Woman, 1958, ink on paper, 7 1/2 × 5". From “Nok Suite,” 1958–59.

Born in 1933, Uche Okeke is one of the leading figures in Nigerian art. He remains little known in the United States, despite a 2006 exhibition at the Newark Museum. That show was called “Another Modernity,” and while I understand the thinking behind the title—a plea for an expansion of the conventional understanding of modernism, a reminder to stop forgetting to look beyond the familiar terrain of Europe and North America—there’s something misleading about it, too. At least so it seemed to me after visiting this eye-opening survey of Okeke’s works on paper from 1958 through 1993. It’s misleading because, as this exhibition showed, Okeke’s modernity was not an addendum to the modernity that had been defined elsewhere, neither a regional variant nor an independent parallel case, but a personal contribution to a global modernity that still remains to be synthesized, and

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