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Fidelis Joseph: Captivating Audiences at the Independent Art Fair

The 2024 Independent Art Fair, held from May 9th to May 12th featured the evocative works of Nigerian artist Fidelis Joseph. Joseph’s paintings were exhibited alongside the sculptures of Terrence Musekiwa, curated by Fridman Gallery on Floor 7.

Fidelis Joseph’s artistic journey is characterized by spontaneity and intuition. He often creates without a predetermined destination for his works, allowing the creative process to flow naturally.

“I paint without prior knowledge of where the works are going to be shown. That way I get to be more at ease with the process,”

Joseph explains.

The pieces he selected for the Independent Art Fair, including “Frank sitting by himself” and “The sun that never sleeps,” emerged from this organic method. “The selection process was easy. It felt right, and I felt comfortable putting them out for the public,” he adds.

Fidelis Joseph, Frank sitting by himself, 2023

Joseph’s collaboration with Fridman Gallery began a year ago and has since flourished into a productive partnership. “Fridman understands how I work and my practice to some degree,” says Joseph. This mutual understanding has enabled a seamless and insightful curation process. The gallery’s passion and responsiveness have provided a fertile ground for Joseph’s works to be thoughtfully presented and appreciated.

For Joseph, the Independent Art Fair was an opportunity to observe how his works interact with both the space and the audience. “This year’s Independent Art Fair was my first, and that made me curious about how my work would engage with the space and the audience,” he reflects. Rather than conveying a specific message, Joseph is interested in how viewers personally connect with his paintings, particularly in the dynamic context of a duo exhibition alongside Musekiwa’s sculptures.

“Frank sitting by himself” and “The sun that never sleeps” are among the highlights of Joseph’s display. “I approach my works without preconceived ideas or narrative,” Joseph notes. The former was named after a visitor remarked on its color palette’s resemblance to that of Frank Bowling, highlighting Joseph’s openness to external interpretations and suggestions.

“The sun that never sleeps” is inspired by Joseph’s vivid memories of the intense heat in Nigeria. “This year’s climate was different from previous years,” he notes, reflecting on conversations with his mother about recent heatwaves. The painting captures the relentless presence of the sun during the hot season in Adamawa state, evoking both personal and universal experiences of climate and environment.

Fidelis Joseph, The sun that never sleeps, 2023

Joseph’s use of color is a direct reflection of his emotional state and the energy surrounding him. “My choices of color often come as a result of my mood and the energy around me within a period of time,” he explains. His technique involves an intuitive mixing of pigments, resulting in vibrant, dynamic compositions that mirror his internal landscape.

While Joseph does not aim to convey specific messages through his works, he hopes that viewers will find personal resonance in them. “I hope the viewers and audience enjoy my works at the art fair and hopefully get something from the paintings,” he states. His paintings are fragments of personal memories and events, inviting diverse interpretations from those who engage with them.

Joseph’s journey from Nigeria to the U.S. and his growing presence in international exhibitions have significantly shaped his identity as an artist. “This is the third time my works are on display in New York,” he notes, referencing previous shows at Kasmin Gallery and the 1-54 Art Fair. The positive reception from these events has been a crucial part of his artistic evolution.

Looking ahead, Joseph is eager to explore new themes and techniques. He is currently working on the “Detention series,” a wet-on-wet mixed media process that he finds particularly intriguing. This series will be featured in a group show at The Campus Upstate in New York from June to October 2024, reflecting his continuous pursuit of artistic innovation.

About the artist

Fidelis Joseph, a native of Adamawa state in northeastern Nigeria, began his formal art education in 2009 and graduated with a B.A in Fine Arts from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, where he won the Artist of the Year Award in 2017. After completing his MFA at Cranbrook Academy of Art in 2023, Joseph received the Cranbrook Art Museum Purchase Prize Award. His vibrant and evocative works continue to captivate audiences and contribute to his prominence in the international art scene.



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