Photographer Rotimi Fani-Kayode was a highly influential figure in 1980s black British and African contemporary art, and although his career was cut short by his untimely death at the age of 34, Fani-Kayode remains one of the most significant names in the history of black photography.
“On three counts I am an outsider: in matters of sexuality; in terms of geographical and cultural dislocation and in the sense of not having become the sort of respectably married professional my parents might have hoped for…” (Rotimi Fani-Kayode)
Tiwani Contemporary, a gallery that holds a focus upon African diaspora, presents the first solo retrospective of the Fani-Kayode’s work which has been curated by Mark Sealy and Renée Mussai of Autograph ABP. The exhibition will feature work from the late eighties, including the artist’s large-scale evocative and sensual colour works as well as his stark black and white images.
Fani-Kayode’s work examines both the political and personal: through the black male body exploring notions of desire, spiritualism and erotic fantasy, whilst also studying cultural dislocation and sexual difference. Poses, motifs and complex tableaus arrive from a fusion of European and African cultures and subcultures, providing layers of provocative symbolism – inspired by what West African Yoruba priests call “the technique of ecstasy”. Informed by the artist’s experience of tension between his own homosexuality and his Yoruba upbringing, Fani-Kayode’s all-male cast address between them issues of sexuality in relation to marginalisation, as well as themes of displacement and belonging on a larger scale.
The exhibition is not only timely in marking of the 25th anniversary of the artist’s death, but also coincides with the recent introduction of new legislations which outlaw same-sex marriages and limit gay rights in several African countries, including the artist’s native Nigeria.
Rotimi Fani-Kayode (1955 – 1989 ) 19 September – 1 November, Tiwani Contemporary 16 Little Portland Street LondonW1 8BP. www.tiwani.co.uk
1. Dan Mask, (1989). © Rotimi Fani-‐Kayode. Courtesy of Autograph ABP and Tiwani Contemporary, London
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