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In The Studio: Njideka Akunyili Crosby

In Los Angeles’ Arts District, the artists has found her base

Njideka Akunyili Crosby. Photo: Ryan Lowry

Njideka Akunyili Crosby. Photo: Ryan Lowry

Njideka Akunyili Crosby 
Arts District 

Born in Nigeria, Njideka Akunyili Crosby moved to the USA at 16. After studies on the East Coast, she had breakthrough exhibitions in 2015 at the Hammer Museum and Art + Practice in Los Angeles, where she now lives. 

It’s fitting, perhaps, that the work of someone who has lived in many places should explore the idea of home. Combining painting, collage, drawing and printmaking, Akunyili Crosby’s large-scale works are typically everyday domestic interiors, peopled by the artist’s family and friends. They often evoke a mixture of intimacy and distance, like browsing a stranger’s photo album. The effect is enriched by the artist’s use of photo-collage: up close, an area, of say, wallpaper is revealed to be made up of images of West African personalities (from models and actors to generals and lawyers), which the artist culls from magazines and the internet.

These layers might be read as metaphors for the formation of personal and social identity, or equally as an interruption of Western art historical tradition. ‘I extrapolate from my training in Western painting to invent a new visual language that represents my experience’, the artist has said. It’s a language which has rapidly won Akunyili Crosby a devoted following among art lovers and museum curators the world over. 

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