"Gindin Mangoro: Under the Mango Tree": Collins Obijiaku @ ADA Contemporary, Ghana
Something to celebrate in 2020 would be the stunning spotlight on contemporary African artists opening shows around the world. Back in 2008, Juxtapoz traveled to South Africa to document the continent’s first contemporary art fair in Johannesburg, and what we found was a mixture of highly conceptual, sculptural work, but not a plethora of figurative paintings. Wow, what a difference a younger generation makes! The incredible talent in representational painters from contemporary Africa has captivated an audience, and as the body itself continues to be explored in the coming years, as both a subject and political statement, Africa is fast-becoming the influential pulse.
One artist who continues to blow our minds with intimate intensity and stunning textural tones is Nigerian-based Collins Obijiaku. This month, Collins solo show, Gindin Mangoro: Under the Mango Tree, was the inaugural show at the new ADA/Contemporary Art Gallery in Accra, Ghana, which focuses on the African diaspora and its artists. Collins himself was born in Kaduna, Northern Nigeria, described by the gallery as someone who” has spent the last twenty years living in Suleja, a small town famous for its proximity to Abuja (the Nigerian Federal capital) and widely recognised as a town with a great pottery tradition.” After showing in various group shows and well-curated auctions this summer, it's a breath of fresh air to see the wide-spanning portrait work of the young artist. ADA notes that Collins’s style honed his unique style without a formal art education, but by nurturing his natural-born talents as a draughtsman.
Gindin Mangoro: Under the Mango Tree demonstrates a beautiful use of color and figurative power. One of the characteristics that initially attracted me to Collins' paintings, a quiet work redolent with a glorious use of browns, golds and earth tones is once again shown in this solo presentation. Collins is able to capture movement within skin tones, the strokes fluid, yet balanced with bright bursts of blues and greens, and in some instances, using pink like an artist capturing its essence. Perhaps that is what makes Collins Obijiaku’s emergence feel so exciting. Like Accra, Ghana-born Amoako Boafo, his deft use of special detail makes the next few years of contemporary art more global, beneath a sky that is the limit for the young Collins. —Evan Pricco
Collins Obijiaku’s Gindin Mangoro: Under the Mango Tree is on view at ADA / Contemporary Art Gallery in Accra, Ghana, from Oct. 15-Nov. 19, 2020