Group Exhibition
3 October - 14 November 2020
Unit London

The Medium Is The Message

Group Exhibition

“Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it, or betray it.” - Frantz Fanon

At its core, The Medium is the Message is an exhibition concerned with pigment over pigmentation. It is primarily about the power artistic pigment holds when trying to express an identity free of cliche. The exhibition takes this focus in order to avoid curatorial emphasis being placed on the pigmentation of skin, which can often reinforce such cliches.

The Medium is the Message is curated by Azu Nwagbogu with the assistantance of Wunika Mukan and Jana Terblanche. The exhibition brings together artists who collectively navigate a world which stigmatises blackness while simultaneously celebrating its cultural products. However, unlike many recent shows featuring black artists, this is not an exhibition with a strong focus on narrative, these works do not outline societal issues by virtue of form alone. Instead, this exhibition is elemental, it seeks to return to the raw constituents of painting, to find what can be said about black identity today, through medium alone.

ARTISTS

Featured Artists

Edozie Anedu

Edozie Anedu

Edozie Anedu is a painter based in Benin City, Nigeria. He explores popular culture, social issues and his personal experiences through oils, acrylics and pastels. His paintings incorporate elemental forms that verge on the abstract, with figures and objects formed with expressive brush strokes akin to graffiti or mural art. His work often includes cultural references that span music, fashion and entertainment.
Sthenjwa Luthuli

Sthenjwa Luthuli

Sthenjwa was born in Botha’s Hill, South Africa, in 1991. In 2010, he joined the BAT Centre Visual Art classes and say’s that these classes familiarised him with the art industry and encouraged him to further explore and develop his creativity. He creates highly intricate, meditative work by carving detailed patterns into wood blocks. His supple figures bend and contort to give a sense of gentle motion.
John Madu

John Madu

John Madu was born in 1983 in Lagos, Nigeria. He is best known for his figurative symbolic style of painting that responds to the complexity of identity, social behavior and the effects of cultural globalisation on individualism. He derives ideas from a wide range of influences and sources based on popular culture, African history and art history, which culminates in a diverse body of work. Madu believes that art in its purest form is a didactic reaction to certain issues of social interest.
Manyaku Mashilo

Manyaku Mashilo

Manyaku Mashilo was born in 1991 in Limpopo, South Africa and is currently based in Cape Town. Mashilo is a self taught multidisciplinary artist who creates mixed media, paper-based drawings and works. Mashilo is currently exploring the phenomenon of the cartographic portrait: her enmeshed figures are mapped onto the canvas, piecing together dimensions of time, place and space.
Emma Odumade

Emma Odumade

Emma Odumade was born in 2000. He is a multi-faceted Nigerian artist whose work centers around hyper realistic drawings which interact with notions of identity and explore the social constructs of beauty and power. Born and raised in Lagos, his art journey started at a very young age - drawing comics and cartoons and pasting collages on paper. Odumade lauds the pencil as a weapon for activism and a means for reconnecting with personal stories and experiences.
Dawn Okoro

Dawn Okoro

Dawn Okoro’s practice began with her interest in fashion illustration, photography, and design. She is a painter, fashion designer, and videographer whose works feature dynamic female figures against gold backdrops. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in fashion design from the University of Texas at Austin, and her Juris Doctor degree from Thurgood Marshall School of Law. Okoro’s solo exhibition “Punk Noir” launched in Austin, Texas, in 2018 and toured through March 2020. Her work has been featured in Architectural Digest, Hyperallergic, Forbes, Artsy, Drawing Magazine, and on BET’s The First Wives Club.
Ojingiri Peter

Ojingiri Peter

A self-taught artist with a studio practice in Nigeria, Peter studied biology education at Kogi State University and began making art in 2017. His most recent work combines West African Folklore with Post-Colonial theory within the realm of blackness, unpacking critical themes that refer to a time in pre-colonial Africa. Peter brings a new and exciting depth to the figure by creating mask-like visages, harkening back to the cultural practices that first led to abstraction. Instead of hyperrealist faces and bodies that objectify blackness, Peter replaces naturalistic features with traditionally ritualistic masks that focus on a feeling rather than skin.
Talia Ramkilawan

Talia Ramkilawan

Talia Ramkilawan was born in Cape Town in 1996. She uses mixed media in order to visualise the complexity of one’s relationship to trauma using various mediums including tapestry, video, performance and installation. The discovery of rug-hooking in her fourth year of university was a breakthrough moment. She immersed herself in this craft and through this medium she was able to create an intimacy and honesty that felt refreshing. Ramkilawan describes the process of making these textiles as a process of healing. Her work is inspired by her own family dynamics and her own experience with South Asian identity, culture and trauma.
Ngozi Schommers

Ngozi Schommers

Ngozi Schommers is a Nigerian multi-media artist born in Enugu in 1974. She now splits her time between Germany and Ghana. Her work focuses on a wide range of subjects including identity, equality, memory, culture, ecological destruction, migration and colonialism. Schommers uses the body and experiences of the female gender, archival materials and memories of her childhood in tackling these subjects. As an artist living between West Africa and Europe, she incorporates experiences of both locations in her work and further expands this discourse using plants, floral patterns and butterflies.
Katlego Tlabela

Katlego Tlabela

Katlego Tlabela was born in Pretoria, South Africa in 1993. Tlabela has always been concerned with the multi-disciplinary technical processes within painting, sound, photography and sculptural installations. Tlabela’s artistic interests span from the social and political crises in post-apartheid South Africa; the independent African continent; and the political climate in the USA. Resistance, protest, dialogues around race and positive methods of representation of the black body and experience are visualized through text-based and visual works, often revisiting history and relating it back to contemporary events.
The blackness presented in The Medium is the Message is authentic, quiet and confident.

The exhibition rejects the lazy depictions of blackness as majesty or misery (with very little gradation between the two). The work unveils many facets of black existence: including play, solitude and contemplation; it is a collection of work that spans the entire canopy of human emotion without kowtowing to exoticism.

In letting the medium take centre stage, these artists are deploying painting as a meditative form of self expression - highlighting the process’s calming nature, and its ability to act as a contemplative release. 

Azu Nwagbogu
Azu Nwagbogu

Azu Nwagbogu

Curator
Azu Nwagbogu is the Founder and Director of African Artists’ Foundation (AAF), a non-profit organisation based in Lagos, Nigeria.

 Nwagbogu was elected as the Interim Director/ Head Curator of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art in South Africa from June 2018 to August 2019. He also serves as Founder and Director of LagosPhoto Festival, an annual international arts festival of photography held in Lagos. He is the creator of Art Base Africa, a virtual space to discover and learn about contemporary African Art.

 Azu Nwagbogu served as a juror for the Dutch Doc, POPCAP Photography Awards, the World press Photo, Prisma Photography Award (2015), Greenpeace Photo Award (2016), New York Times Portfolio Review (2017-2018), W. Eugene Smith Award (2018), Photo Espana (2018), Foam Paul Huf Award (2019), Wellcome photography prize (2019) and is a regular juror for organisations such as Lensculture and Magnum. 

For the past 20 years, he has curated private collections for various prominent individuals and corporate organisations in Africa. Nwagbogu obtained a Masters in Public Health from The University of Cambridge. He lives and works in Lagos, Nigeria.

t
    Welcome to Unit London

    Sign up for updates on exhibitions, artists and events.

    What best describes U?

    Do you work in the arts?

    We will process the personal data you have supplied in accordance with our privacy policy. You can unsubscribe or change your preferences at any time by clicking the link in any emails.
    Close

    Basket

    No items found
    Close

    Your saved list

    This list allows you to enquire about a group of works.
    No items found
    Close

    Welcome to Unit London.

    Close

    Request exhibition catalogue

    Register your interest

    How can we help?

    What interests U?

    What best describes U?

    Do you work in the arts?

    In order to respond to your enquiry, we will process the personal data you have supplied in accordance with our privacy policy. You can unsubscribe or change your preferences at any time by clicking the link in any emails.

    Close
    Search
    Close