Olagunju, Niyi
Born 1981 in Sagamu, Nigeria
Lives and works in Abuja, Nigeria and London, UK
Olagunju’s contemporary appropriation of traditional African sculptures continues his exploration of global trade and, in his words: ‘the absolute commoditisation of everything’. The sculptures, which are usually exhibited alongside preparatory sketches, are bisected vertically and have their internal surfaces primed and coated in metals mined from the region from which they are originally sourced. The project questions the value system driving the continuing growth in the sale of traditional African artifacts, which although originally made and used for specific traditional functions, are now ultimately valued according to their provenance and rarity. Olagunju’s use of precious and semiprecious metals lends consideration to the complex relationships that emerge from the exploitation of natural resources on the African continent, and its subsequent effects on communities and their cultural legacies. Recent exhibitions include African Art: The Market Now, JP Morgan, London (2016).
Niyi Olagunju, Cookie Jar I, 2018, Hand-blown glass, gold leaf, threaded shekere net, 33 x 29 x 28 cm, 12 x 11 x 11 cm. Courtesy TAFETA