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Collins Obijiaku, Green Scarf, 2022

Press Release

Marking Collins Obijiaku’s inaugural solo presentation with the gallery, the exhibition brings together a new group of portraits created over the last year. Unexpected Sittings explores the potential behind every interaction, and how in these dynamic and–at times complicated spaces–one can become inspired to an unfamiliar degree.

As stated by the artist, "there is an unlimited wealth of ideas that are bound within the fabrics of chance conversations or interactions that unfold and progress naturally. And many of these ideas, or fresh perspectives, carry the potential to nudge us, as [either] individuals and groups, into the path of positive change."

Heavily influenced by a deep, familial connection to the cultural heritage and immediate environment around him, Obijiaku's paintings are infused with a sense of everyday life and personal experience. His portraits frequently depict human vulnerability, while examining identity and intimacy. Unexpected Sittings features family and friends—both old and new—painted in the same style: quarter-length portraits with unbroken eye contact, a shallow depth of field with no identifying background, and modern, organic colors. Fusing style with content, Obijiaku captures each of his subject's distinct personalities in the subtlest of detail.

Obijiaku's practice is recognizable for its distinct render, topographical linework, and emotive qualities. Working directly on the surface of either paper or canvas, he slowly builds out the contours of the face with considerable skill. The effect is one not unlike silverpoint, a technique of drawing difficult to correct mastered by Albrecht Dürer. This embrace of both spontaneity and skill captures the intricacies of mark-making, as well as the intangible qualities of the depicted subject. The contrasting color and light, and rich textural quality of painted details, further highlight the artist's hand.

Collins Obijiaku’s (b.1995 Kaduna, Nigeria; based in Abuja, Nigeria) elegant portraits of Black men and women gaze directly at the viewer. The artist uses various materials, often mixing oil, acrylic, and charcoal to achieve soft gradients, seductive texture, and beguiling linework; seen up close, the arrangements of his brushstrokes are almost cartographical in appearance. The artist’s subjects are both people close to him and strangers he meets on the street, which allows Obijiaku to create intimate records of his home and surrounding community. Obijiaku has exhibited internationally, including New York, London, Lagos, and Accra. He was an artist-in-residence at Black Rock Senegal, a multidisciplinary residency program founded in 2019 by Kehinde Wiley in Dakar, Senegal.

Collins Obijiaku, White Lace, 2022

Collins Obijiaku

White Lace, 2022

Oil and charcoal on paper

39.37 x 27.56 in (100 x 70 cm) unframed

45.75 x 33.25 x 1.25 in (116.2 x 84.5 x 3.2 cm) framed

Collins Obijiaku, Just When I Stepped Out, 2022

Collins Obijiaku

Just When I Stepped Out, 2022

Oil and charcoal on paper

39.37 x 27.56 in (100 x 70 cm) unframed

45.75 x 33.25 x 1.25 in (116.2 x 84.5 x 3.2 cm) framed

Collins Obijiaku, Untitled, 2022

Collins Obijiaku

Untitled, 2022

Oil and charcoal on paper

39.37 x 27.56 in (100 x 70 cm) unframed

45.75 x 33.25 x 1.25 in (116.2 x 84.5 x 3.2 cm) framed

Collins Obijiaku Untitled, 2022 Oil and charcoal on paper 39.37 x 27.56 in (100 x 70 cm) unframed 45.75 x 33.25 x 1.25 in (116.2 x 84.5 x 3.2 cm) framed

Collins Obijiaku

Untitled, 2022

Oil and charcoal on paper

39.37 x 27.56 in (100 x 70 cm) unframed

45.75 x 33.25 x 1.25 in (116.2 x 84.5 x 3.2 cm) framed

Collins Obijiaku Untitled, 2021 Oil and charcoal on canvas 46.75 x 39.5 in (118.7 x 100.3 cm)

Collins Obijiaku

Untitled, 2021

Oil and charcoal on canvas

46.75 x 39.5 in (118.7 x 100.3 cm)

Collins Obijiaku Sandra, 2022 Oil and charcoal on paper 39.37 x 27.56 in (100 x 70 cm) unframed 45.75 x 33.25 x 1.25 in (116.2 x 84.5 x 3.2 cm) framed

Collins Obijiaku

Sandra, 2022

Oil and charcoal on paper

39.37 x 27.56 in (100 x 70 cm) unframed

45.75 x 33.25 x 1.25 in (116.2 x 84.5 x 3.2 cm) framed

Collins Obijiaku Red Head II, 2021 Oil and charcoal on canvas 47 x 39.5 in (119.4 x 100.3 cm)

Collins Obijiaku

Red Head II, 2021

Oil and charcoal on canvas

47 x 39.5 in (119.4 x 100.3 cm)

Collins Obijiaku Red Head, 2021 Oil and charcoal on canvas 47 x 39.5 in (119.4 x 100.3 cm)

Collins Obijiaku

Red Head, 2021

Oil and charcoal on canvas

47 x 39.5 in (119.4 x 100.3 cm)

Collins Obijiaku Green Scarf, 2022 Oil and charcoal on canvas 75.5 x 64.5 in (191.8 x 163.8 cm)

Collins Obijiaku

Green Scarf, 2022

Oil and charcoal on canvas

75.5 x 64.5 in (191.8 x 163.8 cm)

Collins Obijiaku, First Night, 2021

Collins Obijiaku

First Night, 2021

Oil and charcoal on canvas

77.5 x 64.5 in (196.9 x 163.8 cm)

Collins Obijiaku Beggar Paint Field II, 2022 Oil and charcoal on canvas 94.25 x 66.875 in (239.4 x 169.9 cm)

Collins Obijiaku

Beggar Paint Field II, 2022

Oil and charcoal on canvas

94.25 x 66.875 in (239.4 x 169.9 cm)

Collins Obijiaku, Beggar Paint Field I, 2022

Collins Obijiaku

Beggar Paint Field I, 2022

Oil and charcoal on canvas

94.25 x 66.875 in (239.4 x 169.9 cm)

Collins Obijiaku Aunt Vivian and Coach, 2022 Oil and charcoal on paper 39.37 x 27.56 in (100 x 70 cm) unframed 45.75 x 33.25 x 1.25 in (116.2 x 84.5 x 3.2 cm) framed

Collins Obijiaku

Aunt Vivian and Coach, 2022

Oil and charcoal on paper

39.37 x 27.56 in (100 x 70 cm) unframed

45.75 x 33.25 x 1.25 in (116.2 x 84.5 x 3.2 cm) framed

Collins Obijiaku  As You Protect Me, So I You, 2022  Oil and charcoal on paper  39.37 x 27.56 in (100 x 70 cm) unframed  45.75 x 33.25 x 1.25 in (116.2 x 84.5 x 3.2 cm) framed

Collins Obijiaku

As You Protect Me, So I You, 2022

Oil and charcoal on paper

39.37 x 27.56 in (100 x 70 cm) unframed

45.75 x 33.25 x 1.25 in (116.2 x 84.5 x 3.2 cm) framed