African Identity, Illustrated By Joseph Eze & Namsa Leuba

The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science – Albert Einstein First times make or mar impressions. An indelible impression was made on seeing this gallery for the first time. That quote perfectly encapsulates my experience as I was awestruck by the artistic works of Joseph Eze and Namsa Leuba at the ongoing “Elsewhere” Exhibition at the Art Twenty One Gallery.

Joseph Eze

art-twenty-one-gallery-lagos-joseph-eze-african(17)   Joseph Eze is a mixed media artist who incorporates painting, sculpture, and installation techniques. His works examine the boundaries between traditional and contemporary Nigerian culture. I’m fascinated with the approach to his paintings displayed here. It’s a contrast between contemporary Western fashion and our Nigerian features and cultures. His work on canvas titled ‘Tribal Kings/Tribal Queens’ creates a series of contrasting paintings & parts on two tablets, that depict the modern African couple where tribal marks are paired with modern-day designer suits and branded logos (like LV). art-twenty-one-gallery-lagos-joseph-eze-african(7) Joseph Eze highlights the juxtaposition of cultural references that span diverse times and geographies, and connects them in a clash of forms. His use of the distinctive feature of African tribal marks is a prominent marker of African identity and beauty as represented by Eze. He clearly expresses how we try to adopt the Western Fashion and Culture; a man with distinctive tribal marks dressed in a designer three-piece suit and a woman wearing native African attire with the traditional African headwrap also fitted with designer sunglasses and earrings.

Namsa Leuba

art-twenty-one-gallery-lagos-namsa-leuba(3) An African-European photographer born in Switzerland, she is a champion of Afro-visual culture and channels the contrast of her Afro-Caucasian roots into her work. art-twenty-one-gallery-lagos-namsa-leuba(7) In the series, THE AFRICAN QUEEN, Namsa was inspired by African woman and statuettes. She tries to re-contextualize African elements through her camera, bringing these elements into a framework for occidental taste and aesthetic choices. She describes her work as full of colors and fashion statements. She produces what she calls “an intervention” on the models in African clothes. She tries to change the classic western perception of African culture, reconciling these two cultures. art-twenty-one-gallery-lagos-namsa-leuba(21) Her photographs examine the representation of African identity through the Western imagination, combining an anthropological interest in ancient ceremonial structures with an aesthetic that is informed by fashion and design sensibilities. “Art is when hear a knock from your soul and you answer” – Terri Guillemets   Elsewhere is a group exhibition that explores the relationship between history, memory, and the creation of new imaginaries and the contemporary notions of fantasy in an interconnected global, environment through painting, photography, sculpture and collage. Participating Artists: Joseph Eze (Nigeria), Namsa Leuba(Switzerland), Vincent Michéa (France), Abraham Oghobase(Nigeria), Demola Ogunajo (Nigeria), Paa Joe and JacobTetteh-Ashong (Ghana), Yarisal and Kublitz(Switzerland/Denmark).

Written by: Tony Ola | Instagram: @tonyola_007