SINCE 2014, Njideka Akunyili Crosby has been using her signature collage technique to make a series of portraits focused on Nigerian children, including her siblings in their youth. Recent works from the ongoing series The Beautyful Ones are featured at Victoria Miro Venice. Closing soon, the exhibition is on view through July 13.

Los Angeles-based Akunyili Crosby grew up in Nigeria. The body of work is inspired by her cherished family photographs and more recent images the artist has captured during regular visits home. The portraits draw on the artist’s personal narrative and the larger history of Nigeria. These influences, along with references to contemporary Nigerian culture and politics are embedded in the layered photographic imagery that grounds and contextualizes the figures in her portraits.

Five works are displayed in the exhibition, including “The Beautyful Ones Series #6,” which is based on a found image. The interior scene depicts a girl standing in a classroom among a series of empty desks. Carrying a tote-style book bag, she is wearing a school uniform—a deep rose-colored dress with white knee socks.

Similarly composed, another work inserts her subject in a brightly colored street scene. “The Beautyful Ones Series #7″ shows a girl in a yellow top, her arms folded across her chest and her gaze confident and direct. She is surrounded by a trio of yellow taxis, with a Peugeot 504 in the foreground. Once ubiquitous among the middle class in Nigeria and still popular with taxi drivers, the French automaker assembled the model in the West African nation for nearly four decades until 2006. CT

 

“Njideka Akunyili Crosby: The Beautyful Ones” is on view at Victoria Miro Venice, May 8-July 13, 2019

 

TOP IMAGE: NJIDEKA AKUNYILI CROSBY. “The Beautyful Ones Series #6,” 2018 (acrylic, colour pencil and transfers on paper 151.8 x 108 cm / 59 3/4 x 42 1/2 inches). | © Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Courtesy the artist, Victoria Miro, and David Zwirner

 

FIND MORE about Njideka Akunyili Crosby on her website

 

BOOKSHELF
“Njideka Akunyili Crosby: The Beautyful Ones” documents the exhibition at Victoria Miro Venice. “I Refuse to be Invisible,” was published to coincide with an exhibition at the Norton Museum of Art. The show was Akunyili Crosby’s first survey and the book is the first to document her practice and includes a lengthy interview with the artist. The name for Crosby’s series The Beautyful Ones comes from a book by Ghanaian author Ayi Kwei Armah, titled “The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born.” The volume explores the lost hope experienced by the 1960s generation that believed in the promise of West Africa’s independence.

 


NJIDEKA AKUNYILI CROSBY., “The Beautyful Ones Series #7,” 2018 (acrylic, colour pencil and transfers on paper 152.1 x 108 cm / 59 7/8 x 42 1/2 inches). | © Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Courtesy the artist, Victoria Miro, and David Zwirner

 

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