Ken Nwadiogbu (b. 1994, Lagos, Nigeria)
The Visitor, 2021
Ken is a full time visual artist who creates innovative conceptual drawings on various surfaces as he engages in multidisciplinary modes of storytelling. Gender equality, African culture, and Black power are a few aspects of his current research and artistic practice.
Nwadiogbu earned a B.Sc. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Lagos, Nigeria. His interest in art, as well as his career began while he earned his degree despite no formal training. Inspired by issues relating to him and those around, he began creating works that reflect the everyday struggles of people, with the hopes of making a change in his community.
Another Journey to Remember, 2020
Popularly known as KenArt, Nwadiogbu is credited for introducing the “Contemporealism” movement and was recently named by Guardian Life as one of the most “Outstanding Personalities of 2019”. He was also awarded the 2019 Future Award Prize for Visual and Applied Arts in recognition of his contributions to the Nigerian arts community. He held his debut solo show Contemporealism (2019), in Brick Lane Gallery, London and has participated in many group exhibitions.
A core focus for Nwadiogbu is to inspire and encourage young creatives. He does this through public speaking and mentorship, as well as through his creative companies; Artland Contemporary Limited and KINGS Management. He is also the co-founder of Artists Connect NG, the largest artist gathering in Nigeria, created to foster creativity, collaboration and community.
Ken Nwadiogbu is constantly revitalising his practice by challenging modes of Black representation. His oeuvres do not just encompass various forms of drawing using charcoal, collage, and acrylic, but most recently transcends into photography, sculpture, installation and performance art.
Closure, 2020/Small Talks in Lockdown, 2020
There’ll always be a need to understand and represent people in a different way. This becomes our way of discovering and revealing who we truly are.
My love for drawing faces of everyday people through ripped paper was born from a need to identify Africans in major global contexts. These juxtaposed pieces became my way of exploring, evaluating, interrogating, and challenging socio-political structures and issues within the society.
I believe that the eye is a window into the being of any human and as such, make it a constant symbol in my latest body of work. I create silhouettes of human forms and embed the eye or sometimes a whole face in them, thus subtracting the human looks and referencing a consciousness that is buried deep within. My process of caring less for other features of my subjects and focusing on the eyes intensifies my every approach to represent us differently to the world.
The focal point of my art is on black lives; recreating my experiences and those encountered by the people around me such as police brutality, lingering racism, xenophobia, culture conflict and shock. Working with charcoal and acrylic on canvas, I am able to invoke empathy in the viewer forcing socio-political thoughts and discourse, and making them aware enough to respond to what is going on in the society.