Exhibition by: Late J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere

J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere: Moment of Beauty Curatorial Statement

The Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos presents Moments of Beauty, a groundbreaking exhibition of work by the Nigerian artist J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere. Occasionally elegiac, but invariably elegant, the photographs in this exhibition reflect what the artist deems as “moments of beauty,” referring to the ebullience of Nigerian life engendered by independence and decolonization. The exhibition highlights the breadth and depth of Ojeikere practice, chronicling his experiences as a visual artist and commercial photographer by presenting works that cover a range of subjects including architecture, education, fashion, social life and cultural festivals. This first comprehensive survey of Ojeikere work to date, with over 150 works, marks the beginning of rigorous scholarship and engagement with the artist’s practice, which spans more than half of a century. As such Moments of Beauty provides in-depth perspectives to the practice of an artist whose formidable archive has become an important anthropological, ethnographic, and artistic treasure.

J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere (b. 1930) documented significant moments in Nigerian history with great passion and discernment. Throughout his career, he has focused on the social, political and cultural transformations occurring during Nigeria’s transition from a colonial state to an independent republic. His formal investigations, documentary work and various commercial endeavors captured the unique atmosphere and élan of Nigeria during a period of great euphoria and ambivalence. Practicing since the early 1950’s, Ojeikere is a leading artist of his generation, devoted to the art of image making, the history of his country and the critical possibilities of the photographic medium.

Moments of Beauty is curated by Aura Seikkula and Bisi Silva. Curatorial Assistant is Antawan I. Byrd. This exhibition has been organised by the Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos in collaboration with Foto Ojeikere. It is co-produced with the Museum of Contemporary Art, Kiasma as an independently curated part of the ARS 11 exhibition, Helsinki, Finland. ARS 11 is curated by Pirkko Siitari, Arja Miller and Jari-Pekka Vanhala from Kiasma.

The richly illustrated exhibition catalogue of ARS 11 includes an insightful essay on Ojeikere’s practice by Aura Seikkula and Bisi Silva.

Taking “Africa” as its focal point, this year’s edition of ARS 11, Finland’s largest international exhibition of contemporary art will feature work by approximately thirty artists whose practices engage with Africa from various perspectives. Among the participating artists are Georges Adéagbo, El Anatsui, Samba Fall, Laura Horelli, Alfredo Jaar, Nandipha Mntambo, Otobong Nkanga, Odili Odita, Emeka Ogboh, Abraham Oghobase and Barthélémy Toguo.

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