Art Twenty One presents Ethnomodern, a solo exhibition by Swiss-Guinean artist Namsa Leuba in Lagos.
Ethnomodern reflects the plurality of Leuba’s practice in both her aesthetic and thematic concerns. Her world combines a journalistic portrayal of theatre, spectacle, and the imaginary. In the interplay between these eclectic bodies of work, Leuba portrays African tradition in a wholly fantastic and contemporary light.
Namsa Leuba’s photography generally examines the representation of African identity through the Western stereotype imagination. Regarded as a rising star in the world of art, Leuba, like many, draws inspiration from her multi-cultured history. Ethnomodern is the first large-scale solo exhibition of Leuba’s work and it brings together the artist’s diverse photographic practice that spans documentary, fashion, and performance.
Ethnomodern will feature nine collections and, for the first time, present the entirety of Namsa Leuba’s work, including the presentation of her newest series, Next Generation Lagos (NGL), produced in 2015 during the artist’s residency with Art Twenty One in Lagos. NGL explores the innovation and creativity of Nigeria’s youth culture. Leuba was inspired by the energy of the city of Lagos – its chaos, vibrancy, and determination – translating this spirit into a unique visual metaphor. The artist collaborated with local fashion designers and models often times sourced from the street, to create a potpourri collection of clothes, props, and accessories. Nigerian fashion designers featured in this series include I.AM.ISIGO, Tzar Studios, Maxivive, Tokyo James, Adeju Thompson, Re Bahia, Torlowei and Deco. Staged in the studio, Leuba imagines narratives for the characters she portrays through a surrealist and psychedelic filter. NGL will be shown fully for the first time after debuting with a preview at the Armory Show in New York in March 2016.
Ethnomodern also includes multiple projects executed over the last five years that highlight the artist’s complex visual language. Leuba’s seminal series, Ya Kala Ben, explores ritual artefacts and statuettes that are common to the cosmology of Guineans in their ceremonial structure. In The Kingdom of Mountains, Khoisan and Zulu Kids series, all three of which were created in South Africa in 2014. Leuba continues her experiments in the constructed image, a reflection of the artist’s own art direction that explores the thematics of cultural hybridity as she negotiates the duality of her heritage. This exhibition also includes the artist’s work in fashion photography. In the Cocktail series, created for WAD Magazine, Leuba comments on the cultural imaginary of Africa where props, pose, and mood speak to questions of exoticism and authenticity. In The African Queens, created for New York Magazine, Leuba explores the representation of the African “queen” as a hero, prophet, and warrior. The more recent series, Tonköma (created for the Edun fashion label) and King (produced for Christian Lacroix) combine masks, jewelry, fabrics and statues that are inspired by notions of power, strength, and nobility.
5th November 2016 – 10th January 2017
Art Twenty One Eko Hotel & Suites 1415 Adetokunbo Ademola Street , Kuramo Waters Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria.
Top featured image: Namsa Leuba, Damien, from the series NGL, 2015.