Retro Africa gallery is pleased to announce its upcoming solo exhibition “Ènìyàn: Escape Room”, opening to the public on Thursday July 6th, 9AM – 5PM, at Art Twenty One, featuring a selection of works by Yusuff Aina.The exhibition is a comprehensive representation of Yusuff Aina's artistic practice and a visual journal of his personal transformation—from vulnerability to strength, self-awareness, and stillness. This body of work consists of 31 new paintings, a site specific installation, and a soundscape, all serving as portals into Aina's art of worldmaking through altered physical spaces, experimentation, and symbolism. Acknowledging the chaos and fast pace of today's world, the project initiates a global discourse on mental well-being, sound mind, and freedom. By placing Ènìyàn in liminal spaces such as open doorways, stairways, and void-like environments, Aina reflects on the stages of confusion and indecision that individuals often experience. The figure is depicted in various states of contemplation and flux as it navigates the artist's mythical universe—an unnamed, expansive world situated between nowhere and everywhere. "Ènìyàn : Escape Room" represents an immersive exhibition that delves into the intricate voyage of Yusuff's artistic practice, encapsulating the depths of his emotional exploration and the potent influence of self-discovery, this exhibition invites spectators to navigate the intricacies of vulnerability, resilience, and the relentless pursuit of personal growth. Through a captivating dialogue between the artist, Yusuff, and the viewer, this exhibition serves as both a therapeutic exploration and a call for collective introspection.Yusuff's profound realization of his own emotional struggles was catalyzed by the unprecedented circumstances brought forth by the COVID-19 pandemic, which compelled him to embark on a period of deep introspection and self-reflection. As the world came to a standstill, confining him within the parameters of his apartment and presenting him with financial obstacles alongside an abundance of time, he seized this opportunity to embark on a transformative inward journey, questioning the very motivations and aspirations that propelled him.Ènìyàn: Escape Room is presented in six unique rooms, each characterised by a distinct colour that corresponds to a group of similar emotional states. For example, Àina's White Room represents an indeterminate state in which it is difficult to define one's mood, while his Black Room symbolises a mind state that consumes all others. The red room alludes to feelings of pain, anger, ego, and pride, while the blue room captures the space between sadness and vulnerability. The yellow room symbolises timidity, and the green room signifies tranquillity and euphoria. Ultimately, these rooms invite audiences to explore the concept of mobility, where mobility signifies healing and personal growth, enabling us to evolve into improved versions of ourselves.Reflecting on the project, Àina states, "The issues I explore encompass both physical and psychological aspects, such as domestic violence, low self-esteem, anxiety, and more. I invite the public into a space of self-awareness—a fertile ground to confront the situations lurking in the shadows of our personal lives and in society at large. Above all, it is my hope that the thoughts explored in this project empower people to fully embrace themselves and embark on a new path or continue progressing on an existing one.” During this period of profound introspection, he began confronting deeply ingrained doubts and insecurities, many of which had eluded his conscious awareness. The impact of diminished self-esteem, depression, and anxiety gradually came into focus, revealing the emotional complexities that he unknowingly carried within himself. Through his paintings and installations, Yusuff endeavoured to articulate the struggle to attain authenticity and liberate himself from societal expectations that had exerted influence over his artistic output in the past."Ènìyàn : Escape Room" is both an artistic display and an invitation to embrace vulnerability, engage with our own emotions, and navigate the complexities of the human experience. By entering each distinct room, visitors are encouraged to see themselves reflected within the narratives woven by Yusuff's artistry. It becomes a space for personal connection, empathy, and understanding, fostering a sense of unity among individuals who may have divergent backgrounds and experiences.Retro Africa Founder Dolly Kola-Balogun, stated: “In the transformative realm of our minds, viewers are invited to explore their own paths of self-discovery, finding solace, inspiration, and a renewed sense of purpose. The exhibition serves as a poignant reminder that introspection is a powerful tool for growth, offering a profound opportunity to connect with ourselves and, ultimately, with one another.”


Art Twenty One, Eko Hotel and Suites, 1415 Adetokunbo Ademola Street Kuramo Waters, Victoria Island, Lagos

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