Everything Good Will Come 5 December 2020 – 10 January 2021
POLARTICS is pleased to present Everything Good Will Come. A joint exhibition featuring works by Bunmi Agusto and Chukwudubem Ukaigwe. This exhibition brings together two young Nigerian artists who partake in reimagining the role of the Nigerian youth. Together, the works comprise a story which depicts a reawakening and the reignition of hope. Following the brutal suppression of protests against police brutality in Nigeria, a pertinent question lingers, “what next?”. What next for demanding accountability? What next for political organising? What next for demanding a right to life?
In this state of unknowing and questioning, we thought it important to bring together two artists, both in the early stages of their careers, whose work provide a mirror to young Nigerians both at home and abroad who over the past few weeks have shared a sense of political and social solidarity which they are experiencing for the first time in their generation. These works provide a vessel through which new nodes of existence and social participation can be explored, expanding our view of ourselves and bringing us closer to answering the question of what next whilst reclaiming our rightful space within all forms of socio-political discourse.
Bunmi Agusto’s paintings follow a woman of the fictional Aruaro clan, which translates into blind from the Bini language of the artist’s maternal tribe, the Edo people. Within Agusto’s practice, this clan can be identified by the tribal marks on their cheeks in which the ancestral eyes are nestled. This second set of eyes are closed throughout childhood and only open when the Aruaro encounters their ancestors through a projection of oneself in their dreams, as depicted in this series, and wakes up with both sets of eyes open.
During this rite of passage, the Aruaro and their ancestors engage in a dialogue that leaves both parties enlightened in both traditional and contemporary perspectives. This body of work ties closely to present day, in which young Nigerians who have been born into a system of silence finally reach a point of political awakening. At the very core of her practice, she questions what objects trigger her Nigerian cultural consciousness using Sherry Turkle’s theory of evocative objects as vessels anchoring personal histories and cultural identity.
Chukwudubem Ukaigwe’s paintings depict Nigeria’s youth in their multiplicity of identities. At the core of this is the acknowledgement that their existence cannot be discussed with a monolithic view as Nigeria happens to be a repository of variances in experience. Ukaigwe’s paintings reimagine a world where strength is garnered in diversity, everyone coming together despite antithesis of personal beliefs, to challenge paradigms of incompetent leadership, vicious classism and neocolonial oligarchy — much similar to what was experienced at the peak of the protests.
He holds onto the silver lining of hope and a belief in creating a Nigerian utopia, a Nigeria where no one is judged or condemned to a barbaric default, because of their gender, class, occupation, upbringing or sexuality. The purpose of these paintings is to create a cognitive space for an epistemological literature of gathering. A space for a dialectical assembly of young Nigerians who collectively possess a strong affinity for liberation.
Bunmi Agusto depicts surreal figures born from the metaphorical language of cultural theory by drawing from terms such as ‘alien’ and ‘hybridity’. At the very core of her practice, she questions what objects trigger her Nigerian cultural consciousness using Sherry Turkle’s theory of evocative objects as vessels anchoring personal histories and cultural identity. Agusto combines the human body with elements she deems integral to this notion to create a mythology of fictional clans existing on a transcendental plane.
Agusto was born in 1999 in Lagos, Nigeria. She earned her BA in Fine Art in 2020 from Central Saint Martins where she graduated with First Class Honours and was awarded the Cass Art Prize twice. She has exhibited work both nationally and internationally. Select group exhibitions include the Saatchi Gallery, Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, Christie’s Education, The Koppel Project Central Gallery, XII Glover, and OXO Bargehouse. Chukwudubem Ukaigwe is a Nigerian born song, dispersed by a transient Atlantic breeze, currently passing through Treaty 1 Territory, so called Canada. He consciously uses a variety of mediums to relay a plurality of ideas at any given time. He views his art practice as a conversation, or a portal into one, and in some instances, as an interpretation of this ongoing exchange.
Chukwudubem weighs an occurrence, feeling, or idea on a scale and then creates a narrative in his own language. Ukaigwe’s present work is a deep dive into the discourse of semiotics and modes of perception. He uses specific mediums to create alternate and multiple realities that interact with each other in open dialogues, presenting the figure in specific and diverse scenarios — paying attention to contemporary fashion, gazes and composition.