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Nengi Omuku Presents First Major UK Solo Exhibition with Hastings Contemporary

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Lagos-based artist, Nengi Omuku is presenting her first major solo exhibition in the UK titled “The Dance of People and the Natural World” featuring her latest creations. This showcase delves into her profound relationship with the natural realm. The exhibition does not only introduce Omuku’s art to a broader UK audience, it also aims to expand the visibility and awareness of the vibrant contemporary Nigerian art scene.

The exhibition will be a display of over ten pieces stretched across five of the eight galleries at Hastings Contemporary featuring artworks produced by Omuku between 2021 and 2023. The series focuses on the idea of rediscovering a connection with nature with works that reflect the artist’s love for nature and an exploration of the solace it provides her. According to Nengi Omuku “This comes from both a personal place, telling my story as a gardener and florist, as well as what I feel is a collective leaning, and re-communion with nature today.” 

Image courtesy of Badara Preira

Omuku’s educational journey led her to London, where she dedicated several years to studying at the Slade School of Fine Art, over time cultivating a distinct artistic style. Her style is characterized by the application of oil paint onto gesso-prepared composite strips of sanyan; a finely woven, hand spun fabric of rich Nigerian cultural heritage.

This exhibition at Hastings Contemporary provides an exciting opportunity to view two new works produced this year alongside Eden (2022); Omuku’s largest piece to date. Measuring an impressive 224 x 520 centimeters, this expansive display includes stools, scatter cushions and potted plants, reflecting the setup of Nengi’s Lagos studio and inviting the viewers to pause and indulge in a moment of quiet reflection. Eden is a fauvist inspired palette of harmonious colors that reinforces the theme of rest and solace provided by nature therefore serving as a bridge between the other exhibited works. It is an allegorical journey from darkness into light that is reminiscent of the biblical paradise and a yearning for the pre-fall serenity. 

Eden, 2022, Oil on sanyan 224 x 520 cm, Image courtesy of Hastings Contemporary

The exhibition include two of Omuku’s works: Welcome Home (2022) and Lighthouse (2021) featuring her signature ethereal figures set in dreamlike landscapes, Still life (2021) which is a subtle reference to the time the artist spent working as a florist and horticulturist under her mother, Repose (2022) and Swing (2022) both of which suggests the influence of Monet’s Giverny garden as well as Omuku’s personal exploration of impressionism.

Anticipating her first major solo exhibition in a UK public gallery, Nengi Omuku says: “It is a great privilege to have my first solo institutional exhibition at Hastings Contemporary, whose programme I have long admired for its far-reaching approach to painting. As a student at the Slade I dreamed of having a museum show in the UK, my home from home, and nowhere feels more fitting than Hastings Contemporary whose coastal location, for me, finds kinship with Lagos. The group of works presented focus on bringing love and light into the world, on concern for the environment and on sustainable practices to nurture and protect natural habitats.”

Author

Joy Adeboye is a creative writer and visual storyteller. She is a graduate of the Department of English and Literary Studies at Obafemi Awolowo University. She is currently a Writer for Art News Africa.

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