Made from discarded wooden pallets used for the transportation of goods around the world, Abdulrazaq Awofeso’s recent work is loaded with connotations of human migration, as well as referring to the artist’s own frequent journeys through Africa and Europe.
Dismantling the pallets, Awofeso uses the timber to represent human figures in wall reliefs, freestanding sculptures and installations. Individually carved and painted by hand, their physical traits and vibrant colours are inspired by encounters with people in different cities and subcultures – such as La Sape (“society of ambience-makers and elegant people”), prevalent in Kinshasa and Brazzaville. While La Sape’s colourful sartorial style originated as a response to colonial rule and western “dandy” fashion, any suggestion of uniformity – or a kind of universal portrait – is contradicted by the distinctiveness of each figure, conveying the artist’s resistance to simplistic cultural or racial categorisation.
Awofeso lives and works between Birmingham, UK, and Lagos, Nigeria. His work features in prestigious private and institutional collections including Fondation Gandur, Benetton Imago Mundi, Laurent Perrier, Deborah Goldman and Yemi Odusanya. Solo exhibitions include Out of Frame at Ikon Gallery, Birmingham (2022), and a forthcoming show at Museum Arnhem, Arnhem (2023). Awofeso will present new work in a solo exhibition at Ed Cross Fine Art’s London gallery, 19 Garrett Street, in spring 2023.