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Genius Grant winning artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby expresses cultural collision in her works

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The paintings of Njideka Akunyili Crosby, a Los Angeles-based artist, are simple at first glance, featuring home and commonplace situations of herself, her family, friends, and lovers. The flat perspective and texture, on the other hand, are accomplished through numerous layers of collage and drawings, creating a unique portrait.

With imagery inspired by Nigerian pop culture and fabrics with the faces of people from her family’s weddings, her materials allude to her upbringing in Nigeria (where she resided until she was 16). These allusions and layers elevate her work above the ordinary, providing a richer narrative that seeks to “challenge generalizations about African existence.” In an interview with The Guardian, the artist emphasizes how the mundane is just as present in the thoughts of Africans as the scenes of crisis and turmoil that the media portrays to foreigners.

Njideka’s figures are beautifully constructed and appear to be looking past the observer, but despite this implied distance, her art feels very personal. Njideka’s process, which she describes as “labour-intensive,” exemplifies this. “All the decisions, like where to put stuff, what color to use, that takes a lot of time,” she explains. I enjoy working with my hands, having the sketches in front of me, and moving things about.”

Njideka Akunyili Crosby: The Beautyful Ones Series #5. Courtesy the Artist and Victoria Miro, London © Njideka Akunyili Crosby
Njideka Akunyili Crosby: Garden, Thriving. Courtesy the Artist and Victoria Miro, London © Njideka Akunyili Crosby

Njideka Akunyili Crosby: See Through. Courtesy the Artist and Victoria Miro, London © Njideka Akunyili Crosby
Njideka Akunyili Crosby: Grandmother’s Parlour. Courtesy the Artist and Victoria Miro, London © Njideka Akunyili Crosby
Njideka Akunyili Crosby: Grandmother’s Parlour. Courtesy the Artist and Victoria Miro, London © Njideka Akunyili Crosby

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