“Beach Life” (2021) by Peter Uka

 

FOR HIS FIRST SOLO EXHIBITION in the United States, Peter Uka is presenting seven new figurative paintings. On view at Mariane Ibrahim in Chicago, “Peter Uka: Longing” channels 1970s nostalgia and memories of growing up in Nigeria.

Uka portrays men wearing bell bottoms at the beach, the barbershop, and gathering for a portrait on floor cushions. One painting is titled “Sideburn Brothers” (2021). In another, a female subject named “Marsha” wears a perfectly coiffed afro with a loose, jewel-toned shift and big hoop earrings.

Born in Nigeria, Uka is based in Cologne, Germany. Memories of his Nigerian roots course through the artist’s practice and his latest body of work.

Uka recalls the joy of a simpler time when people were engaged with one another. getting lost in time and their natural surroundings, rather than their electronic devices.

Produced in rich saturated palettes, his pictures possess a photographic quality and each has a “presence of green” with a landscape, leaves, clothing, and an interior space painted in tones of green in homage to the dense forests Uka said were once ubiquitous. “These are things my people don’t have anymore,” the artist said in a video about the exhibition.

“This for me is a moment in time. A time when all was well, all was good,” said Uka. “I remember being a young child and being happy. Carefree. All of the problems, the adults took care of it. And now as a grown man I reflect back to those times. They are gone, but the memory of them still stays with me and I long for that peaceful moment when all was well. And for me, this is a way of tapping back into that.” CT

 

“Peter Uka: Longing” is on view at Mariane Ibrahim in Chicago, Ill., from Nov. 13, 2021-Jan. 15, 2022

FIND MORE about the exhibition

 


Artist Peter Uka introduces “Longing,” his first solo exhibition in the United States and shares his inspiration for the works. | Video by Mariane Ibrahim

 


PETER UKA, Detail of “Marsha,” 2021 (oil on canvas, 70 7/8 x 70 7/8 inches / 180 x 180 cm). | © Peter Uka, Courtesy the artist and Mariane Ibrahim

 


Installation view of “Peter Uka: Longing,” Mariane Ibrahim, Chicago, Ill. (Nov. 13, 2021-Jan. 15, 2022). | Courtesy the artist and Miriam Ibrahim

 


PETER UKA, “Still Riding 2,” 2021 (oil on canvas, 55 1/8 x 74 3/4 inches / 140 x 190 cm). | © Peter Uka, Courtesy the artist and Mariane Ibrahim

 


PETER UKA, “Sideburn Brothers,” 2021 (oil on canvas, 86 5/8 x 74 3/4 inches / 220 x 190 cm). | © Peter Uka, Courtesy the artist and Mariane Ibrahim

 


Installation view of “Peter Uka: Longing,” Mariane Ibrahim, Chicago, Ill. (Nov. 13, 2021-Jan. 15, 2022). | Courtesy the artist and Miriam Ibrahim

 


Installation view of “Peter Uka: Longing,” Mariane Ibrahim, Chicago, Ill. (Nov. 13, 2021-Jan. 15, 2022). Shown, “Fresh Up (Trimmed),” 2021. | Courtesy the artist and Miriam Ibrahim

 


PETER UKA, “Fresh Up (Trimmed),” 2021 (oil on canvas, 78 3/4 x 90 1/2 inches / 200 x 230 cm). | © Peter Uka, Courtesy the artist and Mariane Ibrahim

 


PETER UKA, “Blue Jacket,” 2021 (oil on canvas, 74 3/4 x 57 1/8 inches / 190 x 145 cm). | © Peter Uka, Courtesy the artist and Mariane Ibrahim

 


Installation view of “Peter Uka: Longing,” Mariane Ibrahim, Chicago, Ill. (Nov. 13, 2021-Jan. 15, 2022). | Courtesy the artist and Miriam Ibrahim

 


PETER UKA, “O.T.,” 2021 (oil on canvas, 63 x 78 3/4 inches / 160 x 200 cm). | © Peter Uka, Courtesy the artist and Mariane Ibrahim

 

TOP IMAGE: PETER UKA, Detail of “Beach Life,” 2021 (oil on canvas, 70 7/8 x 98 3/8 inches / 180 x 250 cm). | © Peter Uka, Courtesy the artist and Mariane Ibrahim

 

BOOKSHELF
Several recent volumes explore the work of figurative painters and contemporary African artists, including “Unrealism: New Figurative Paintingn” “Radical Figures: Painting in the New Millennium,” and “African Artists: From 1882 to Now.”

 

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