Taiye Idahor was born in 1984 in Lagos, Nigeria, where she currently lives and works.
In 2007, she graduated from Yaba College of Technology in Lagos with a Higher National Diploma in Fine Arts, specialising in sculpture.
Using collage, drawing, sculpture, and mixed media, Idahor explores layers of themes at once expansive and deeply intimate, expressing identity both female and African within the broader contexts of history, tradition, memory and globalization. In many of her works, hair is a recurring motif which carries different symbolic elements, as well as the many facets and contradictions of female identity. Newsprint braids overflow from soft canvas and tracing paper surfaces, filled with secrets and memories. Across Idahor’s sculptures, drawings and collages, hair grows, blooms and transforms, creating new forms and identities.
Her recent Hairvolution series involves a personal journey into her own family history, trying to fill the space left by the paternal grandmother she never knew, but whose hair she inherited. The artist creates visions of poetic figures in a dreamlike state between worlds. In this surreal space with no gravity, negative spaces are characters enacting tales of loss and longing, suggesting a sense of constant searching and questioning. Delicate collages evoke feelings of being cut off from the fragile memory which keeps us connected to history and family, as well as embodying a multiplicity of selves, through reincarnation and regeneration.
Idahor does not shy away from creating dialogue around the roles and expectations of women in society, both in Nigeria and more broadly across an increasingly globalised world. In the Ivie series, faceless images of the elaborate coral beads traditionally worn by Bini royalty, and since recent times worn by brides, question the status and power of women, highlighting the ongoing struggle for equality.
Ivies Series, 2014.
Recent group exhibitions include Ori meta, odun meta, ibikan, shown at the ISCP, New York, USA (2017) and at the Centre for Contemporary Art Lagos, Nigeria (2016); Standing Out, Temple Muse, Lagos, Nigeria (2016); TimeLine, Bag Factory Studios, Johannesburg, South Africa (2015); Society of Nigerian Artists’ 50th Anniversary Exhibition, Omenka Gallery, Lagos, Nigeria (2014); l’Art au service de la réconciliation, Centre Soleil d’Afrique, Bamako, Mali (2014); Marker 2013, a special project at Art Dubai Fair, Dubai, UAE (2013); Nigeria Now: Emerging trends of Contemporary Art in Nigeria, a special project at Art Africa Miami Arts Fair, Miami, FL, USA (2012); Water and Purity, Wheatbaker Hotel Ikoyi, Lagos, Nigeria (2012); Colours and Creativity, National Museum Onikan, Lagos, Nigeria (2012); and An Anonymous Tale, Yokohama Creative City Center, Yokohama, Japan (2011).
Ivie Series, 2014.
Idahor has participated in residency programmes including El Ranchito at Matadero Madrid (2017), the Bag Factory Residency in Johannesburg, South Africa (2015), CCA Lagos Asiko Art School Program in Dakar, Senegal (2014), PROJET: RENCONTRES “DJEKA MIRI“ at the Centre Soleil d’Afrique in Bamako, Mali (2014), SIMSALABOOM! Before you learn to fly, learn how to fall: International Summer Academy in Salzburg, Austria (2013), Bakassi Peninsul’Art in Limbe, Cameroon (2011), Ishiwata Residency in Yokohama, Japan (2010), and the 6th Harmattan Workshop, held in Agbarha-Otor, Delta State, Nigeria (2004).
The artist presented her first solo exhibition, Hairvolution, in 2014 at the Whitespace Gallery in Lagos. She is due to mount a solo exhibition in early 2018 at Tyburn Gallery in London. (text and courtesy Tyburn Gallery London)