Wole Lagunju practices a visually stunning form of Onaism, wherein he appropriates Western cultural artifacts and combines them with Yoruba cultural artifacts, notably Gelede masks, to challenge the audience to consider how we often look at culture through a Western lens.
The Gelede masquerade is a performance celebrating motherhood, fertility, and femininity - and combining these themes with Western cultural icons, he evolves our understanding of the role of Yoruba culture - and broadly African art - to reframe our perspective.Sampling from a wide variety of cultural iconography across history - from Dutch Golden to Elizabethan to fifties Americana to Nigerian adiré batik - Lagunju’s paintings are both fashionable but also imbued with layers of inspiration and meaning.
Lagunju’s cultural references, mined from the eras of colonization and decolonization of the African continent critique the racial and social structures of the 19th century whilst evoking commentaries on power, femininity and womanhood.
Wole Lagunju is a 1986 graduate of Fine arts and graphic design at the University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria. Lagunju has exhibited widely in Nigeria, United States, Trinidad and Germany. Recent exhibitions include: 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, London (2020); We All Live HereYoruba Remixed, Ebony Curated Gallery, Capetown (Solo Exhibition) 2018, Wole Lagunju: African Diaspora Artist and Transnational Visuality, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virginia (Solo Exhibition) 2014, Womanscape: Race, Gender and Sexuality in African Art, University of Texas, Austin Texas, 2011. Wole was awarded a Phillip Ravenhill Fellowship by the UCLA in 2006 and a Pollock Krasner award in 2009.