The end of 2023 is around the corner and now is a good time to visit exhibitions booming with vibrant contemporary histories. From sculptures to highly relatable and expressive paintings, the best thing about these shows are their ability to gasp our attention so they are well remembered.
Here, we present our top four picks—exhibitions that transcend the ordinary, showcasing the innovative works of both established and promising emerging artists. Each show is a portal into the contemporary, offering a glimpse into the artistic zeitgeist that defines the closing moments of 2023.
Parallel Passages: Types and Shadows
26 November – 30 December 2023
Kokopelli Gallery presents ‘Parallel Passages: Types and Shadows’ a group exhibition of works by 7 indigenous Nigerian artists working across mediums
The exhibition seeks to reconsider the art of storytelling from the narrative of common classifications, making sense of complex systems and facilitating comparisons or analysis.
Featuring works of Ayela-Uwangue Nosawema, Victoria Makinde, Imomoh Asemokah, Ronke Komos, Okedoyin Luli, Eghosa Raymond and Babatunde Affiko. The exhibition is curated to explore the concept of identification of common traits or patterns and the exercise of connecting the dots.
Fiyin Koko: Water Me
9 December 2023 – 7 January 2024
Yenwa presents the solo exhibition of Nigerian artist Fiyin Koko, featuring paintings, sculpture, and digital mediums in an exploration of the essence of growth through nurturing.
Fiyin Koko Tunde-Onadele (1994) is a multidisciplinary artist and sculptor. Her work in the past years is inspired by all facets of womanism and Her dreams. Fiyin Koko expresses feminine resilience in a whimsical, often humorous, and genial style. She grounds Herself in six guiding pillars: womanism, conversation, body positivity, movement, love, and femininity. She is in constant search to interpret these pillars in everyday life adjoining the essence of fantasy, ‘artivism’, and her dreams while telling spellbinding stories.
William Kentridge: What Have They Done with All the Air?
25 November – 20 January 2024
Goodman Gallery presents What Have They Done with All the Air?, an exhibition of new drawings and sculptures by William Kentridge. Works featured relate to a new theatre production in the making, titled The Great Yes, the Great No, in which the artist uses the journey of a ship from Marseille to Martinique as a prompt for unpacking power, colonialism and migration.
The story behind The Great Yes, the Great No begins in June 1941, when a converted cargo ship, the Capitaine Paul Lemerle, sailed from Marseille to Martinique. Among the passengers escaping Vichy France were the surrealist André Breton, the anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss, the Cuban artist Wifredo Lam, the communist novelist Victor Serge, and the author Anna Seghers. The captain of the boat is Charon, the ferryman of the dead, who calls other characters onto the deck – Aimé Césaire, The Nardal sisters, who together with the Césaires and Senghor had founded the anti-colonial Négritude movement in Paris, in the 1920s and 1930s. Frantz Fanon joins the group along with Trotsky, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. The boat journey is the 1941 crossing of the Atlantic, but also references earlier crossings from Africa to the Caribbean, as well as contemporary forced sea crossings.
The Great Yes, The Great No unfolds some of the techniques put into play in Oh To Believe in Another World (2022), a film that used green screens against which performers were filmed so that they could later be extracted from the background. In both Oh To Believe in Another World and The Great Yes, The Great No, Kentridge also draws on the green paper itself, and the colour assumes prominent place in the final work, rather than disappearing as a green screen usually would.
Kolade Oshinowo: Enduring Passion
kó Art Space
November 12 – December 22 2023
kó presents ‘Enduring Passion’ a solo exhibition by Kolade Oshinowo.This exhibition showcases Oshinowo’s artistic journey from the 1980s to the present, highlighting the diverse range of his work and celebrating the legacy of a national treasure.
Kolade Adekunle Oshinowo is a renowned artist recognized for his expressive and emotive paintings, often centered around the landscape and the human form. Rooted in a naturalistic style, his artwork examines the connection between individuals and their surroundings, whether in rural or congested urban spaces. Oshinowo also creates intimate portraits that capture the dignity and emotional complexity of his subjects. Oshinowo reflects on themes of uncertainty and transcendence, examining how humans spiritually connect amidst the awe of nature and their roles within the social fabric and collective existence of society.
Born in Ibadan, Nigeria in 1948, Kolade Oshinowo graduated from Ahmadu Bello University, Zara in 1972 with a specialisation in painting. His university years were shaped by the Nigerian Civil War and the influence of the Zaria Art Society, which had challenged the Western-centric approach to art education a decade earlier.