Yusuff Aina's Dramatic Paintings Reflect COVID-19 and Police Brutality in Nigeria

As part of a virtual exhibition called “Where We Dey Go Now?”

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Mixed-media Nigerian artist Yussuf Aina Abogunde is showcasing a selection of new paintings and prints as part of a virtual exhibition called “Where we dey go now?” curated by Brice Arsene Yonkeu. Across the works, Abogunde raises questions on the definition of Blackness while exploring the trajectory of Black bodies on a global scale.

The artist also touches on the harsh realities of those living in underserved communities in Nigeria as they continue to face existing socio-political issues such as police brutality amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Altogether, the artist unmasks the lives of various individuals in the country, from street sellers to corrupt politicians that are all featured in his striking figurative pieces that are divided into six distinct series: Myopic, Global Holiday, Messiah Contest, Protraction, Journey Through Time and Portrait of the Year.

Abogunde uses a technique called “Ainaism” — a term that stems from the Yoruba name “Aina” that was given to a child born with the umbilical cord wrapped around it neck. The approach features maze-like lines, patterns and symbols inspired by the artist’s Yoruba culture. These elements evoke the artist’s own obstacles, hopes, struggles and freedoms. Several works also feature an “Eniyan” mask as a nod to his own roots and identity.

“As an artist, Yusuff wants his work to transcend two-dimensional expressions, to become an experience for people far beyond what is seen as it is not just a display, but an interaction. Through this exhibition, we hope that each person who encounters Yusuff’s work, whether Nigerian or not, Black or non-Black, will converse with themselves, challenge their beliefs, reflect on the state of humanity and the meaning of unity,” as per a statement.

View select works in the slideshow above and then check out the virtual exhibition on Yussuf Aina Abogunde’s website.

Elsewhere in art, Perrotin Paris is launching a solo exhibition featuring JR’s monumental Tehachapi mural installation at the maximum security complex in Southern California.

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