Cut From the Same Cloth is Ed Cross’s first solo exhibition of paintings by Wole Lagunju (b. 1966, Oshogbo, Nigeria, based in North Carolina), open in the gallery’s Garrett Street space.
Best known for his large-scale figurative works splicing Western visual culture – models and celebrities, from magazines and museums – with diverse Nigerian motifs, in particular Gelede masks traditionally used by male dancers to play female parts in masquerade, Cut from the same Cloth seeks to bridge the gap between two distinct strands of the artist’s practice: conceptually and physically.
“I’ve long been interested by a certain, stubborn eclecticism in Lagunju’s work – two strands to his practice with roots going way back, distinct but in conversation with each other.”Ed Cross
The exhibition highlights new large-scale works on canvas, exemplary of Lagunju’s ongoing Gelede series, alongside smaller, conceptually different works that have been rendered in the same oil paints on the same material surface. Applying pigment with a pallet knife onto canvas offcuts, Lagunju’s new series is literally cut from the same cloth as his larger works – exhibited together, each illuminates aspects of itself in the other, showing they are not so different after all
Wole Lagunju said,
In 2014, after my exhibition Wole Lagunju: African Diaspora Artist and Transnational Visuality at James Madison University, Virginia, United States, I decided to engage with images of men and women that appear in pop culture and high-end glossy magazines to further my artistic practice. In the exhibition catalogue, I reiterated how the configurations derived from combining these images with Gelede masks and costumes might best be left to the imagination. And fast-forward to 2022, it seems that the reinterpretation of contemporary fashion is all the rage in contemporary African art; not surprising, perhaps.
The purpose of my recent paintings in Cut From the Same Cloth is to question existing canons of race, reimagine heritage and respond to global influences. In my juxtaposition of traditional Yoruba iconography with that of Western Euro-American culture, I hope to instigate new conversations about stereotypes of racial superiority while fostering intercultural understanding. However, I will not interject
in the resulting conversations or proffer solutions to existing issues relating to cultural relationships or diplomacy when it comes to interpreting them. I am returning to my African roots to search for narratives and share knowledge that will hopefully transcend cultural boundaries and resonate with individual viewers as we all investigate and critique both personal and cultural relationships to issues of power, gender and identity.
Wole Lagunju: Cut From the Same Cloth, – 28th September Ed Cross, 19 Garrett Street London, edcrossfineart.com
About the artist
Wole Lagunju (b. 1966 Oshogbo, Nigeria, lives and works in the United States) trained in graphic design at the University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria. His work is associated with Onaism, a contemporary art movement of the Ife Art School dedicated to reimagining the forms and philosophies of traditional Yoruba art and design. He often pairs this influence with a clash of diverse cultural notions exploring post-colonial hierarchies and hybridisation. Lagunju was awarded a Phillip Ravenhill Fellowship by UCLA in 2006 and a Pollock Krasner award in 2009. His work is held in numerous collections, including Collection Leridon ans Fondation d’entreprise Francès (both France). Selected exhibitions include: Yoruba Remixed, Ebony Curated, Cape Town, (2018-19), 1-54 Contemorary African Art Fair, London, 2018, Colour Chart, Ebony Curated, Cape Town (2017); Navigating Space and Time in African Contemporary and Diasporic Art, The Basement, London (2017); Wole Lagunju: African Diaspora Artist and Transnational Visuality, James Madison University, Virginia (2014); Womanscape: Race, Gender and Sexuality in African Art, University of Texas, Austin (2011); AFRICA NOW!: Emerging Talents from a Continent on the Move, The World Bank Art Program, Washington DC (2008); The Art of Oshogbo, Via Mundi Gallery, Atlanta (2006); Without Borders: Four Contemporary Artists, Pan African University, Lagos (2004); and Best of Ife, Goethe Institute, Lagos (1997).