The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) presents ‘Re-Mixing African Photography’, by Kelani Abass, Abraham Onoriode Oghobase, and Mallory Lowe Mpoka, on display until January 7th, 2024.
Kelani Abass, born in 1979 in Nigeria, uses photographic images as a starting point for multi-layered plastic works. He uses old portrait photographs from his father’s publishing archives, metal typefaces, and printing elements. Abass also uses ink pad imprints to recreate the image. His work highlights the importance of material heritage and archives as a link between the past and present, rewriting and reassembling fragmentary and multiple memories.
Abraham Onoriode Oghobase was born in 1979 in Lagos, Nigeria. He pursued his education at the Yaba College of Technology’s School of Art, Design, and Printing, with a specialization in photography. Oghobase’s deep curiosity about life’s purpose has shaped his distinctive artistic style. He delves into themes surrounding human emotions and identity, set against specific socio-economic contexts, frequently incorporating himself into his performance art. Recently, Oghobase has innovatively employed the four-color separation method to craft composite artworks with monochromatic image layers.
Mallory Lowe Mpoka, born in Montreal, Canada (1996), is a queer artist of Cameroonian and Belgian descent who delves into the intricate themes of identity and belonging through archival imagery and personal narratives. As a multidisciplinary artist and cultural enthusiast, she examines diasporic journeys, transoceanic transitions, and the aftermath of colonialism, challenging conventional notions of ‘home’ and migration. Notably, Mpoka has held a residency at the Villa Lena Foundation, stood as a finalist for the Access Art x Prize, and claimed the Malick Sidibé award. Her latest creations can now be appreciated at the Art Gallery of Ontario.
These three contemporary African artists are reimagining photographic histories in West and Central Africa through introspective, experimental, and critical approaches. Their works, including their series Scrap of Evidence, showcase their engagement with the photographic archive, family photographs, archival material, and mixed media objects. Abass’s three-dimensional objects explore memory, archives, and temporality, while Mpoka’s performance-based compositions explore family archives and Oghobase’s Colonial Self-Portrait challenges colonial ideas.
AGO is a large art museum in Toronto, attracting one million visitors annually. With over 120,000 works, it presents diverse exhibitions and programs.