“E Wá Wo Mi” and “Are We Good Enough”: Lakin Ogunbanwo at Niki Cryan Gallery

Lakin Ogunbanwo’s photography series “E Wá Wo Mi” and “Are We Good Enough” opens October 14, 2019 at the Niki Cryan Gallery.

Lakin Ogunbawo "I Was Gonna Cancel", 2015, courtesy Niki Cryan Gallery
Lakin Ogunbawo “I Was Gonna Cancel”, 2015, courtesy Niki Cryan Gallery

Niki Cryan Gallery is pleased to present on October 14, 2019, a solo exhibition of two photographic series: “E Wá Wo Mi” and “Are We Good Enough” by Lakin Ogunbanwo, who began expanding on contemporary African visual archive in 2012 with “Are We Good Enough”.

“Are We Good Enough” is an on-going project in which worn hats are documented as cultural signifiers by various ethnic groups in Nigeria. It is a series of enigmatic portraits that explore identity. By deliberately obscuring the individual identity of the sitters, he draws attention to what it is that defines an individual within a larger cultural collective; who this individual may be and how they want to be perceived. He has pared down the communicative aspect of the project to the power of the hat – ‘that witty but vital accessory in fashion’ – to speak of masculine identity.

In “E Wá Wo Mi” (come look at me), central to Ogunbanwo’s latest exploration is the culture surrounding Nigerian brides and marriage ceremonies. He utilizes veiled portraiture to document the complexity of his culture, and counteract the West’s monolithic narratives of Africa and women. The performances these brides carry out are ones of love, familial and cultural pride, feminine strength, and a heterogenous African identity, but they are also the burdens of being wives, mothers and daughters-in-law.

Lakin Ogunbanwo (b. 1987), studied Law at Babcock University, Nigeria and Buckingham University, England before working as a fashion photographer. Working at the confluence of fashion photography and classical portraiture, his subjects exist defiantly in the frame often masked by shadow, drapery and foliage. His use of vibrant flat colour and bold compositions form a more minimalist homage to the African studio photography popular in the 1960’s and 70’s. He has been recognised by the British Journal of Photography as one of the Top 25 Photographers of 2015 in their annual Ones to Watch. His work has been featured in the Times New York, ID online, British GQ and Riposte Magazine.

Ogunbanwo’s works have been exhibited in various local and international spaces including WHATIFTHEWORLD and Rooke & van Wyk Gallery in South Africa, Dey Your Lane! at BOZAAR; Lagos Photo Festival (2016) and Art x Lagos in Nigeria (2016). His work has recently been acquired by the National Gallery of Victoria, Australia and the Wedge Collection in Toronto, Canada.

The exhibition will be on view until November 3, 2019.

To visit the exhibition and for further enquiries, contact the gallery at [email protected]

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