About Exhibition

31 October - 21 November 2021

Escapism, an exhibition of works by five amazing Nigerian artists, Peju Alatise, Ndidi Emefiele, Gerald Chukwuma, Anthea Epelle, and Kainebi Osahenye, brings us into thoughtful engagement with the concepts of escape and escapism. To live is more or less to witness and endure heart-rending realities. In the face of such unremitting harshness, we would rather forget, would rather we are spared. Facing reality head-on takes its toll, even for the strong. It is a lot easier to simply hide away and to escape.

But is escape possible? To what do we escape? Is there any place from which we can truly be free of reality? The experiences that unsettle us and the pressures that mount against us are manifold. They spring up everywhere like vicious weeds. They take up more space than we can spare in the rooms of our life. Escapism offers, not complete escape but the moment-so much in popular entertainment does that but more importantly a way to think about the things from which we seek escape. The exhibition, in presenting
viscerally-engaging works by these contemporary Nigerian artists, fortifies us to meet reality and its harshness with untiring fantasies and imaginations.

The works on display are in conversation with one another and with the viewer, reinforcing and illuminating the theme of escapism in both direct and oblique ways. With her cactus series, Ndidi Emefiele takes us into a whole world of fantasy, helping us escape reality for a moment into richly imagined spheres. Peju Alatise’s figures (angel-like in their effect) are seen in the world of fantasies, the wings in her pieces signifying the breaking free of struggles. Gerald Chukwuma, in his choice of material and subject matter, celebrates hope & beauty with his vibrant colours, a celebration which also indicts a system that has not done enough for the sustenance and development of such traditions. Kainebi Osahenye, with arresting hues, draws us into the depths of human emotion and solitude. Anthea Epelle, using oil paint, presents us with compelling portraits ofbold defiant subjects.

Art Pantheon Gallery is proud to create the space for these kinds of conversations, between artists and the viewers. In presenting Escapism to the public, we intervene in the Nigerian situation. We see this intervention as necessary. A worsening economy, insoluble insurgency, and growing insecurity, all of which have become commonplace in the country, cause much despair and could use the response of art. We may not all be able to fully escape the sad realities that engulf us now, but we can meet them with fantasies & imagination to distract and give us relief for the moment and by doing so find our way through.

Peju Alatise

Peju Alatise is an interdisciplinary artist, architect and author of two novels. She started her professional career as an architect working in an architectural firm along side running a private art studio. Today, Peju is one of the leading contemporary artists on the African continent. Her works challenge the status quo of the African society and also of global affairs. She has been consistent with her experimentation with materials and techniques as a medium to analyse various socio-political issues. Peju has also been an influential voice on the Child Not Bride campaign in Nigeria, with her work regularly feeding into this discourse.

Peju Alatise is a fellow at the National Museum of African Art, part of the Smithsonian Institution. Her work has been collected by the Smithsonian Institute. She is the 2017 winner of the FNB Art Prize in Johannesburg. Her work was exhibited at Venice Biennale’s 57th edition, themed Viva Arte Viva (Long Live Art) in the Nigerian pavilion. Her work was exhibited at the 2018 EVA biennial in Ireland. Peju Alatise’s is a regular feature at 1:54 Art fair in New York, Marrakech and London.

Her participation in the Venice Biennale Architecture 2021 was a direct invitation from the Biennale Curator Mr. Hashim Sarkis. Alatise’s work at the Biennale, Alasiri was described by the financial Times as “…eye-catching installation and vivid figures create a solid introduction to the Biennale”.

Other selected recent past exhibitions of her works were held at the:
• 2014 Casablanca biennale in Morocco
• Cooper gallery for African and African American art
• Harvard University-2017
• Resignification of Black body 2016 in Museo Bardini – Florence.
• Familiar boundaries – Infinite possibilities exhibition, August Wilson centre, Pittsburgh, USA. Curator- Kilolo Luckett, October 2018 to March 2019.
• EVA Ireland Biennial 2018. Curator- Inti Guerrero. Manifesta 12, Resignification of Black bodies. Palermo, Italy, Curator-
• Awam Ampka (New York University) June 2018.
• Péju Alatise ‘Memoirs of the forgotten’ 2019 Sulger Buel Gallery, London.
• Intricacies: Fragment & Meaning Aicon Gallery, New York 2019

Peju Alatise is the founder of the ANAI Foundation – a non-profit foundation dedicated to the development of visual arts in Nigeria, and the first purpose built artist’s residency with a well-equipped ceramic studio, which offers sponsored training programs for ceramic artists.
Her debut novel Orita Meta, chronicling the interwoven path of three women, was nominated for the ANA/Flora Nwapa Prize for Women’s Writing in 2006.

Ndidi Emefiele

Drawing on cultural, gendered and personal references, Ndidi Emefiele creates layered figurative compositions that, dynamic in brush stroke and in juxtaposition of colour, conjure the complexity of contemporary experience and female identity. Emerging out of the Nigerian panorama, the strength of her narrative becomes even more pronounced as she encompasses collage, textiles and traditional materials conveying a strong sense of cultural heritage and aesthetics inspired by her homeland.

Ndidi Emefiele’s incredibly vivid canvases embrace a vision of women as strong, vibrant, self-confident characters who exist in relation to each other in a universe where the male is only noticed by his total absence. Her assertive figures make no attempt to fulfill male expectations. The depiction of enlarged heads which are traditionally said to control and predict one’s destiny, and the use of extravagant glasses or CD’s, become a recurring element objectifying the need for a shield against the world.

Ndidi Emefiele (b.1987) lives and works in North Hampton, UK. Emefiele has exhibited widely both internationally and in the UK including solo/group presentations in Miami, New York, London, Chicago, Los Angeles, Lagos, Johannesburg and Abuja.

Emefiele forms part of private collections such as:
The Deighton Collection
The Beth DeWoody collection
The Jimenez – Colon Collection.

Public collections include:
The Mint Museum
The Nigerian Stock Exchange, Lagos, Nigeria
The University Of South Africa, Cape Town.

She was awarded with the prestigious ‘The Olive Prize 2016’ (Excellence In Painting, The Slade School Of Fine Art). Emefiele was among the nominees of The Future Awards Africa 2016 for Arts & Culture. Emefiele presented her works at the MoCADA, New York; The Perimeter, London; The Charles H. Wright Museum, Detroit and The Taubman Museum of Art, Virginia as part of the exhibition “Reclamation! Pan-African Works” from the Beth Rudin DeWoody collection.

Gerald Chukwuma

Gerald chukwuma’s art explore migration as a constant process of transformation. Working with his signature upcycled aluminium battered wood carvings and installations, he creates works that reflect the joys , struggles and erosion of culture and language as it grinds in the mortar of globalisation through richly illustrated depictions of stories , myths and legends . He tells his story using the uli and nsibidi patterns in a refreshing way. Laden with personal and symbolic meanings , they speak to our human desire to communicate with each other and share stories about who we are, where we have come from, where we may be going , and most importantly what we are saliently becoming.

Gerald’s audacious and inherently dramatic pieces explore creative opportunities locked in certain waste materials and the possibilities of creating narratives and emotional contents that allude to notions such as globalisation, decay, movements, slavery , culture and history. The entire demeanour of his art which he has exhibited widely in many parts of the world including Nigeria, United States of America, United Kingdom, Denmark, Turkey, Netherlands, South Africa, and Berlin is majestically severe, forceful, unrelenting, coulourful , abrasive, playful and even imposing.

Born in nigeria in 1973, he cultivated his aesthetic at the university of nigeria, Nsukka where he earned his art degree summa cum laude.

• In 2008 and 2011, Gerald emerged as one of the top three winners in the reputable national art competition.

• In 2011, His art was featured in the cable news network, CNN’s inside africa

• In 2019, He was featured in the New York Times art review

His works are in the collections like the
• University of Nigeria, Nsukka
• Beth Rudin DeWoody, USA
• The Hague, Netherlands
• Eston capital/john friedman collection
• Pan African University, Lagos
• Seth Dei collection, Accra
• The World Bank collection, Washington D.C.
• Yemisi Shyllon Museum, Lagos

Anthea Epelle

Anthea Epelle is an artist who lives and works in Lagos Nigeria. She works mainly with oil on canvas but sometimes works with recycled paper and ink and with oil on paper. Her works are mostly figurative abstracts.

Anthea is a self taught visual artist and the only creative training she has was gained when she studied Fashion design and technology at the London College of Fashion ( Now University of the Arts). She took up painting professionally in 2007.

Her work has been featured in exhibitions in Nigeria. Some exhibitions she has participated in are:

  • Nigeria Our Nigeria -Presidential Inauguration Exhibition, Abuja 2011
  • The Contemporaries- Wheatbaker, Lagos 2015
  • Women’s Month Art Exhibition – Rele Gallery Lagos 2016
  • Afro Modernism Exhibition – Abuja 2016

She is featured in a book titled “Art of Nigerian Women” by Chukwuemeka Ben Bosah.

Kainebi Osahenye

Kainebi Osahenye born in Agbor, Delta state, Nigeria. He studied at the Auchi polytechnic, Auchi and Yaba college of technology, Lagos, majoring in painting in 1989. In 2012, he received a masters of fine arts (MFA) from Goldsmiths, University of London, London, UK.

Osahenye works across a variety of mediums which includes painting, sculpture, installation, drawing and collage. He has used assortment of basic materials to address issues about life, spirituality, consumerism, identity and the environment.

Osahenye has had residencies at the school of visual arts in New York and Vermont studio center, Vermont, USA.

He has participated in several exhibitions including:
• 1.54 Art Fair, London, 2018;
• ArtXLagos 2016, 2017, 2019;
• Biennale Jogja, Indonesia, 2015
• Art 14, London
• Shifting Currents, National Museum, Lagos, 2014
• Afropolis
• Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum, Cologne, Germany, 2010
• Dak’Art (Off), Dakar, Senegal, 2010
• Trash-ing, CCA Lagos, 2009.

Osahenye was included in Okwui Enwezor and Chika Okeke-Agulu’s Contemporary African Art since 1980 and Phaidon’s Art Cities of the Future: 21st Century Avant- Gardes.