Art in the Diaspora

Monique Meloche Gallery Announces Representation of Luke Agada

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Monique Meloche Gallery announces the formal representation of artist Luke Agada, whose first solo show at the gallery Arms, Feet, and Fitful Dreams is on view through October 28. 

Luke Agada (b. 1992, Lagos, Nigeria) examines themes of globalization, migration and cultural dislocation within the framework of a postcolonial world and its impact on neo-cultural evolution in his practice. His surrealist paintings of disembodied figures and dream-like grounds reference identity and the transformation of the postmodern human, where both time and space produce complex bodies of difference. Overlapping the past and present, the other and the self-reflect the ambiguity of our identity within post-structuralist theory. 

Monique Meloche Gallery announces the formal representation of artist Luke Agada.
Image courtesy of Monique Meloche Gallery.

Agada’s work has been inspired by the postcolonial writings of Homi Bhabha, Edward Said and literary works by fellow Nigerian authors Chinua Achebe and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. His work is a continuous reflection of his investigative approach to history and critical theory with regards to the examination of the culture of dominance through globalization.  

Luke Agada. ARMS, FEET, AND FITFUL DREAMS, 2023, oil on canvas. 182.9 x 243.8 cm.
Image courtesy of Monique Meloche Gallery.

Debut Exhibition

Arms, Feet, and Fitful Dreams presents a series of new paintings by the Lagos born artist which respond to the constantly shifting landscape of the African diaspora. Agada, a self-taught artist who came to the US to study at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, reflects on the instability of the transitory human. His surrealist-like paintings of disembodied figures floating in ethereal spaces references the present moment of transit formed where time and space in a postmodern world intersect to produce complex bodies of difference and identity, past and present.

The title of the exhibition Arms, Feet and Fitful Dreams comes from the New York Times article African and Invisible: The Other New York Migrant Crisis (Jan 2023) which covered the resource drought and physiological perils migrants from Africa face upon entry to the United States, and specifically, one man from the Bronx, Imam Omar Niass and his efforts to house hundreds. It was reported that the migrants seeking refuge on the floor of Niass’s house was a “tangle of arms and feet and fitful dreams.” Within the canvases are visible references to architecture, the body, trade symbols, and animals, seemingly neither present nor absent but existing in limbo within Agada’s liminal spaces. His color palette of dark browns, reds, blues, and tans suggest a psychological space wherein old memories are embedded but not always clear. 

Luke Agada. IN-BETWEEN (EMPIRE RIDES BACK), 2023, oil on canvas, 152.4 x 182.9 cm.
Image courtesy of Monique Meloche Gallery.

He received his MFA in Painting and Drawing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2023) and a DVM at Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (2018). He has had recent national and international exhibitions with Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, Berlin, Germany (2023); African Artist’s Foundation, Lagos, Nigeria (2021); and Gallery 1957, Accra, Ghana. He will be presenting a solo show at Monique Meloche Gallery in 2023.  

He has also been a recipient of various awards and fellowship including: The James Nelson Raymond Fellowship Award (2023); Dean’s Grant, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL (2023); Janet and Russell Doubleday Award at The Art Students League of New York (2022); The Helen Frankenthaler Award at SAIC in (2022); George and Ann Siegel Award, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL (2021); Global Warming International Art Prize, New York, New York (2020). Agada lives and works in Chicago, IL and is currently teaching at SAIC as a lecturer in the Painting and Drawing department.

Installation view. Image courtesy of Luke Agada.

Bardi Osobuanomola Catherine is a budding storyteller. Her academic credentials include a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Benin. She has contributed to numerous Art publications across Africa. She is currently a Writer for Art News Africa.

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