Njideka Akunyili Crosby’s complex, multi-layered works reflect contemporary transcultural identity drawn from the artist’s memories and experiences. Her large-scale figurative compositions combine drawing, painting and collage on paper. She uses the visual language and inherited traditions of classical academic western painting, particularly the portrait and still life but combines these with collage of colours and textures that give them an African identity.
She portrays images of family and friends, in scenarios with details derived from everyday domestic experiences in Nigeria and America. These include recollections from the formative years of her upbringing, as well as more recent relationships and experiences. Her work often features an element of self-portrait, as in a series of intimate scenes of the artist with her husband made in the early years of their marriage. Her collaged paintings present a compelling visual metaphor for the layers of personal memory and cultural history that inform and heighten the experience of the present.
Akunyili Crosby was born in Enugu, Nigeria in 1983 and lived there lived until the age of sixteen. In 1999 she moved to Los Angeles, where she has remained since that time. Her cultural identity combines strong attachments to the country of her birth and to her adopted home, a hybrid identity that is reflected in her work.
She complements and enhances her paintings by carefully chosen and integrated collage elements, predominantly acetone-transfer prints of small photographic images. Some of these images are from the artist’s archive of personal snapshots, magazines and advertisements, while others are sourced from the internet; they feature images with a thematic resonance to each particular work.
Source Victoria Miro website
Inspiration for my own practice
It would be interesting to try chine colle for more figurative work like this – using ready printed African textured papers under linocut would work well. Though it would require a lot of preparation and planning to get the collages elements properly in place.