Njideka Akunyili Crosby: Portals
at Victoria Miro
Until 5th November 2016
On show upstairs in Victoria Miro’s Gallery II, Portals is the first European exhibition for Njideka Akunyili Crosby and comprises a number of the Los Angeles-based artist’s large scale works on paper.
Akunyili Crosby, who was born in Nigeria and moved to the United States at the age of 16, has created these works especially for Victoria Miro. At first glance this new body of work seems to depict regular everyday scenes – a woman sitting on a sofa, a couple embracing, a display of family photographs. But the people are often caught in a reverie or distracted by some unseen event and the still-lifes have an eerie quality of unexplained intimacy.
On close inspection the surface of Akunyili Crosby’s work reveals itself to be made up of a mixture of both painting and drawing combined with photo-transfer images. The images used come not only from magazines and advertisements but also include photographs of Akunyili Crosby’s own family. The images are a mix of popular culture from the artist’s Nigerian childhood combined with her later life in America; Beyoncé rubs shoulders with Nollywood star Genevieve Nnaji and military dictators appear next to family snapshots.
The portals of the title refer not only to the doors and windows, of which there are many in the works, but also less obviously to the televisions screens and laptop computers which also feature prominently in many of the paintings and which also function as openings through which to view other worlds.
Complex and colliding cross-cultural references make Njideka Akunyili Crosby’s work all the more fascinating and this is a strong European-debut show for an artist with a deft hand for layered meaning. Well worth seeing.
Njideka Akunyili Crosby: Portals is on at Victoria Miro until 5th November
All photographs ©The London Art File
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