O’DA Art Gallery presents “The Citizens of Nowhere,” a solo exhibition showcasing the works of Nigerian artist Anthony Nsofor.
“The Citizens of Nowhere” is a powerful narrative reminding us that every region has its own unique experiences. Also, the people we meet along the journey of life have their own stories to tell. Nsofor, through his vibrant and thought-provoking artworks, invites viewers to explore the lives and identities of the often unnoticed or marginalized individuals in society. Through art, he captures the complexities of human experiences, portraying struggles, triumphs, and intricate emotions in vivid strokes.
Nsofor’s paintings blend faces, symbols, and patterns into abstract compositions, creating a captivating series across multiple canvases. Within each stroke, he reveals many identities, representing diverse and communal experiences. Nsofor’s paintings, part of the “Citizens of Nowhere” series, delve into migration, identity, and life as a foreigner. They explore shared experiences in foreign lands, depicting the diverse challenges faced by individuals and capturing vivid narratives.
Anthony Nsofor (born 1973) majored in painting while studying Fine and Applied Arts at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Nsofor has devoted his 20-year studio practice to recording his experiences as a black African artist travelling through numerous countries. He has expanded his practice from Nigeria to Cote d’Ivoire and now to the United States. With these extensive cross-cultural experiences, Nsofor’s work also addresses governance, migration, sexuality, and the Nigerian predicament.
All of this is expressed through a visual language of writing, signs, and symbols based on the Uli, Nsibidi, and Adinkra traditions he studied at Nsukka. Nsofor is able to combine his desire to reinterpret African ideology from a transnational angle with his skill at fusing vibrant colours and patterns to evoke new meanings and define cultural ideas.
Regarding the inspiration behind his exhibition, Nsofor stated, “The more I travelled, the more I felt alienated and a strange kinship—I formed an alliance with people everywhere. There was a certain frustration with a system that did not acknowledge one’s presence. These are some of the agitations associated with being a migrant. Also, the nostalgia for the homeland never leaves you. These complex feelings affected how I saw reality so much.”
Sunshine Alaibe of O’da Art Gallery said that the title of the exhibition accurately describes what his paintings depict. In her words, “No matter how long ago we leave Nigeria, we all have a part of Nigeria with us. Tony might not be here, but he is telling his experience of being away while also feeling like he wants to be here, and it’s important to tell these stories consistently. He has a couple of traditional influences, and you can see the way he draws faces in all his works, deliberately or non-deliberately, showing people packed tightly together but still alienated.”
His exhibition at O’DA Art Gallery transcends personal experiences, exploring universal migrant truths and emotional connections.