“My love for drawing faces of everyday people through ripped paper was born from a need to identify Africans in major global contexts,” Ken Nwadiogbu says on the eve of his new solo show, UBUNTU, at Thinkspace in Los Angeles. “There’ll always be a need to understand and represent people in a different way. This becomes our way of discovering and revealing who we truly are.”

In a truly seminal era for young painters from the African continent, the Nigerian-born Nwadiogbu focuses much of this body of work on the concept of coming full circle. He notes that UBUNTU, the title of the exhibition, can be expressed or translated as the phrase, “I am because we are.” There is weight to this. It speaks to the idea that, as a society and a culture, we share qualities that are passed down through centuries and generations. As we have had our own reckoning in America across 2020, Nigeria, too, faced an historical understanding of its own brutal past playing out on the streets of the nation. Nwadiogbu’s works comprehend a large global vernacular with social awakenings and reckonings, and UBUNTU is a powerful show of healing and truth. I implore us to consider our society as spaces we occupy and challenge us to think, in a larger context, about our role in these spaces,” he says, “what we can do to influence these spaces and how we react to these spaces, because I believe, it is only then that we can discover the true meaning of ‘Ubuntu.’” —Evan Pricco