5 November - 9 January 2020
A group of people sit with their backs to the viewer while in the distance a crowd of spectral figures form a wall of bodies that blends into the beige background. This haunting, textural painting, The Sit Down by Nengi Omuku, depicts a non-violent protest, which was originally inspired by three separate instances of injustice in the artist’s home country of Nigeria, but the work gains new significance in the light of the tragic events currently unfolding in Lagos as peaceful protesters continue to be met with brutality. Omuku’s latest body of work marks a shift in the artist’s focus from the individual to the collective body and communal existence. Painted onto panels of a traditional Nigerian fabric known as Sanyan, the artworks negotiate the complexities of identity and belonging in relation to gender, race and cultural heritage. The artist’s solo show entitled Gathering at Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery’s London Bridge space brings together a collection of highly atmospheric and emotive scenes filled with urgency and longing.
Nengi Omuku, was born in 1987 in Nigeria. She has completed both a BA and MA at the Slade School of Fine art, University College London. Omuku’s work is inspired by the politics of the body and the complexities that surround identity and difference. With every journey, she considers how human beings position themselves in space in relation to other beings. Foremost on her mind are the ways in which the body needs to adapt in order to belong. It is constantly selecting and gathering its identity, mentally, physically and emotionally. Omuku’s work shows colored anthropomorphic forms, which stand in contrast to the scapes they inhabit. They are based on the supposition that the human figure can be transformed from its present reality, with the intention to look beneath its surface.