Nigerian artist selected for prestigious U.S. art residency

A Nigerian-American artist, Victor Ehikhamenor
A Nigerian-American artist, Victor Ehikhamenor

A Nigerian-American artist, Victor Ehikhamenor, has been named as The Neon Museum’s 2020 National Artist in Residence in the United States.

Mr Ehikhamenor was selected from a pool of 110 applicants.

The museum said his work is “abstract, symbolic and politically motivated with a connecting thread of signs, symbols and language.”

“Ehikhamenor has maintained an interest in signs, symbols and language. The patterning that defines his work is a form of gestural abstraction reminiscent of written language,” a statement by The Neon Museum said.

The artist who is also a photographer and writer has had his work featured in numerous biennales and his essays published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Wasafiri magazine and more.

He will join The Neon Museum for eight weeks to create artwork inspired by the museum’s collection, starting from October 26 to December 18, the statement read.

The residency will encompass several opportunities for public engagement to benefit Southern Nevada residents, U.S and museum visitors, it added.

During his residency, Mr Ehikhamenor will “reference the assortment of iconic Las Vegas signs in the museum’s exhibitions and archive, as well as collaborate with members of the Las Vegas community, collecting poems, statements, and short stories.”

The work will be interpreted through large-scale drawings and interwoven into sculpture and installation work, incorporating the medium of neon.

About the artist

Born and brought up in Lagos but of Edo State parentage, Mr Ehikhamenor is one of the most prolific artists in Nigeria. His works have been featured in the 5th Mediations Biennale in Poznan, Poland (2016) and the Biennale Jogja XIII, Indonesia (2015), and exhibited in London, Lagos and Washington D.C.

He was one of three artists to represent Nigeria at the first Nigerian Pavilion in the 57th Venice Biennale in 2017.

He is a 2016 Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Fellow.

His works have portrayed the idea of democratic space, using Nigeria and the U.S. as case studies, and also explored the theme of class stratification in modern times.

“I’m interested in what goes on in the mind of the danfo driver, the banker, the hustler or the politician – the Lagosian,” he once said in a 2017 interview with Ayo Akinwade.

He said he was trained as a writer but he is able to express what he writes with drawings and paintings.

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“If I draw simple lines to make a point, those are my poems,” he said in the interview.

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