Wahab SaheedOctober 9(Fri.) – November 7(Sun.), 2021NANZUKA UNDERGROUND MAP*Tuesday – Sunday 11:00 – 19:00*Closed on Mondays and holidays
NANZUKA is pleased to present the world’s first-ever solo exhibition of up-and-coming Nigerian artist Wahab Saheed. Saheed was born in 1998 in Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city and major African financial hub situated along the South Atlantic Ocean. He graduated from the prestigious Yaba College of Technology with a Higher Diploma in Painting in 2019, and currently continues to work as a painter in his studio in Lagos.
Saheed’s remarkable sensibility and talent have been nurtured as a result of his persistent efforts and on-going studies. His striking expressions created through his use of charcoal have evolved through the hundreds of portraits that he had produced at his local market as a means to earn his tuition. While this had proved to be a strenuous task, it also served as a highly valuable experience that shaped Saheed’s practice as an artist. As he continued to depict the faces of hundreds of people, he learned that the most important foundation in portraiture was to capture the emotionalism of his subjects.
“I try to not portray a person in the fullness, how they look, or put themselves across, I only I don’t look at it from that perspective rather I look at things in a very, inward manner. I am more into the expressions they give. If I can capture the truth about their expressions, then I’ve actually painted the person.” – Wahab Saheed.
Saheed paints portraits of black identities. His portraits of black figures depicted through sharp and speedy gestural mark making in contrast to the planar and almost graphically posteresque composition of the spaces that they inhabit, succeed in strongly emphasizing the physicality and the spirituality that these subjects carry. As an artist who has inspired his practice, Saheed mentions German expressionist artist Käthe Kollwitz, who lived during the turbulent times from the late 19th to mid-20th centuries. It indeed seems to be fatefully inevitable that the work of Kollwitz, who was an eloquent advocate for victims of social injustice and inhumanity, had caught both the eye and fascination of Saheed.
A new generation of African artists led by figures including Amoako Boafo, who in recent years is taking the world’s art scene by storm, employ portraiture in their practice as a means to covey the dignity of black identity and culture. Such reflect the strong spirit and intentions of artists who are trying to pave the path for a new era, seemingly inheriting Kollwitz’s ethos into the context of our present times.
“There’s a new voice in Africa as a whole, we are doing our best and we’re writing history in the contemporary art scene.” – Wahab Saheed
In this exhibition, a selection of around 10 new paintings on canvas will be presented in the first floor space of NANZUKA UNDERGROUND. These works depict the artist’s friends, acquaintances, and family who live remarkably and with much strength in the midst of these unprecedented times brought on by the pandemic. We invite viewers to take this opportunity to embrace and engage in the world of Saheed’s oeuvre.