MAD54 was pleased to attend Do This in Memory of Us: a collaboration between the Abuja-based gallery Retro Africa and international gallery Lehmann Maupin. This group show is Retro Africa's first footstep in New York City and will be on view at Lehmann Maupin's West 22nd street location through August 16.
Do This in Memory of Us holds a conversation that loops into the storied past, shifting present and unfolding future of Africa, the show features the works of Nigerian-American artist Victor Ehikhamenor, Congolese painter Chéri Samba and African-American artists Nate Lewis and Nona Faustine.
The group show embodies the flow and exchange between African and Western traditions, transcending borders and conveying the cultural resonances and divergences between the African heritage and the African American diaspora. By integrating specific references from their own lives and by interweaving ancient and contemporary African knowledge systems in their work, each artist becomes both witness and storyteller. The latter builds his unique expression of Blackness, and invites one’s engagement by inspiring global consciousness, higher ethics, and inclusivity.
“Do This in Memory of Us is a way to bear witness to history, using the Benin Kingdom as a point of departure and giving voice to those that came before me,” states Victor Ehikhamenor. “The works in the show are inspired by history, humankind and current events and speak to my experience managing the complex duality Africa and America, a place I’ve called home for two decades.”
Ehikhamenor explores the universal themes of history, nostalgia, home, and spirituality through immersive installations borrowing heavily from iconology and traditions. Nate Lewis, on another hand, tackles those topics through patterns and textures recalling African weaving and skin embellishments. With Chéri Samba’s humorous depictions touching on the social, political, economic, and cultural realities of his country, and Nona Faustine’s critical and emotional examination of contemporary racial and gender stereotypes, the exhibit surely highlights the breadth and depth of the contemporary African art scene.
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Retro Africa is an art gallery based in Nigeria which provides a platform for emerging or established contemporary African artists. With a strong desire to explore local stories and re- contextualize the African individual in the modern era. Its aim is to spread awareness and portray Africa’s socio-political and economic realities, as well as its rich heritage. Retro Africa has at the core of its mission the purpose to inform the younger generation about the qualities of the visual arts and to contribute to the remarkable growth of the continent’s creative industry.