Ndidi Emefiele presented her ongoing ‘Rainbow’ series through Omenka Gallery at the 1:54 African Contemporary Art Fair in London, which took place over four days from October 6th. The series depicts expressive female characters with larger-than-life heads wearing glasses. At first glance, it is easy to brand her artwork solely as intriguing. However, with a committed stare, a story unfolds in these faces of lived experiences to bring awareness to gender issues.
Distinctive to Emefiele’s work is the repurposing of discarded materials such as tulle, fabric, scrap plastic and compact discs to highlight the dominant role consumption has in the world. The use of traditional fabric prints symbolises African culture and the emotional meaning rooted in them to fuse art and fashion. Her work is indicative of the variation of artworks within Contemporary African Art, which defies the conception that African Art is merely tribal and primitive. Contemporary African Art expresses artists’ personal views of current matters and events that have taken place in African culture.
Emefiele advances her personal experience through her work, depicting mainly female characters to portray the feminine reality. Emefiele states, “being raised in Northern Nigeria where the security of the woman is threated, her focus is to highlight…the religious, economic, political and social forces that violate her freedom, right and decency.” A work titled ‘Materialistic’ features a female elegantly postured with an intense gaze shielding her eyes from the viewer. The adage that “the eyes are the windows to the soul” proposes that the glasses aid as a means of protection against societal demands. An intimate persona of being a woman is captured in her work showing an adaption to society’s expectation of being a woman while balancing the desire to remain genuine to one’s self. Emefiele celebrates the female through her work as an achiever from “the rural to the urban, from a place of timidity to audacity, from invisibility to visibility.” The work is simply captivating – creating a connection to these females and conveying a powerful message.
Ndidi Emefiele’s works may be viewed on Omenka Gallery’s website.