Ken Nwadiogbu

About speaker

Ken Nwadiogbu is a self taught multidisciplinary artist, based in Lagos, Nigeria. A trained civil engineer, he soon pivoted to fine art, first embracing hyperrealism and charcoal drawing before expanding his creative horizon to more conceptual works and a wider array of techniques, including acrylic painting, sculpture and installation, upon developing the engaging layered monochrome portraits that have now become his signature. His works are inspired by iconic American contemporary art figures such as J.-M. Basquiat, Kehinde Wiley, Toyin Ojih Odutola and Kerry James Marshall.

On Nwadiogbu’s large canvases, stories superimpose themselves in multiple layers. Mixing together hyperrealist charcoal eyes and faces drawings with newspaper collages, or monochrome portraiture, he creates ingenious, politically charged visual illusions. In his eye-catching trompe-l’oeil, he deploys a singular outlook, daring the audience to question their own, for “value lies in the perspective”. Defending an art that can be at once smart and fun, Nwadiobgu explores grave matters in intense colors and playful cut-outs, addressing altogether black representation and identity, displacement, and socio-political control.

Applied in strong monochromatic layers, Nwadiogbu’s colors are highly purposeful. Beyond the solid symbolism he places behind his various tones (blue for purpose, purple for ambition, etc.), there is an undeniably catchy appeal to his works, they reclaim attention: they are here to be seen, and noticed. Recently exploring new forms through colorful cardboard boxes installations and dynamic 3D renderings, Nwadiogbu enjoys expanding his perspective -and ours, rarely ever leaving anything to chance, but rather proceeding from a place of joy, and intentional care.

His works have been exhibited in a number of galleries including Omenka Gallery (‘Insanity’ group show, Lagos, 2016), Retro Africa (‘In the making’, Abuja, 2018), Bricklane Gallery (‘Contemporealism’, London, 2021), and Thinkspace (‘Ubuntu’, LA, 2021). His works were showcased at ART X Lagos on several occasions, at 154 London, and Prizm Art Fair, in Miami. He was part of Voice NFT residency curated by Azu Nwagbogu in 2021. His latest exhibition project ‘A Different Perspective’ is currently on show at Retro Africa, and live on Artsy until June 20th.