Kenechukwu Victor's first in-person solo exhibition with Thierry Goldberg opens in New York
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Kenechukwu Victor's first in-person solo exhibition with Thierry Goldberg opens in New York
Kenechukwu Victor, Ebube na Divine, 2021.

NEW YORK, NY.- Thierry Goldberg is presenting “Let there be Light, Let there be White,” Kenechukwu Victor’s first in-person solo exhibition with the gallery, following his online solo exhibition this summer, Eziokwu (UndilutedTruths). The exhibition runs from January 15th through February 19th, 2022.

“Let There Be Light, Let There Be White” continues Kenechukwu Victor’s passion for storytelling through portraiture. Utilizing a pallet of vibrant hues, Victor exposes personal perspectives on the realities of Nigerian life. His figures transcend from their surrounding environments, their lips and hair painted Victor’s signature white, alluding to the Nzu tradition symbolizing truth, purity, and peace. Each portrait functions as its own narrative, resulting in an exhibition that resounds in a cacophony of stories, memories, and experiences.

Drawing influence from friends, family, and his surrounding community, Victor orchestrates his works to cleverly reflect his reality while connecting to the world at large. Adaeze (2021) displays a young woman elegantly sprawled upon a bed draped in white. The arrangement of this composition mirrors that of Manet’s Olympia (1863), as the central figure of Adaeze, which translates to “princess,” exudes luxury and self-certitude.The figure is presented in a lush environment swathed in purple and gold, her gaze, similar to that of Olympia's, is unabashedly directed towards the viewer. The surrounding nature seems to enclose around the young woman, while an additional figure, obscured by the floral and fauna thrusts through, almost disrupting her moment of tranquility. Whereas Olympia seems to purposefully ignore the figure to her left, Adaeze appears to be oblivious to its presence, adding a somewhat sinister tone to the work.

Victor depicts his figures with a certain sense of resilient vulnerability. In Behind the Curtain (2021) & Behind the Curtain II (2021), a young woman stands wrapped in blue in front of a yellow curtain. Victor depicts this figure in two distinct stages, one during pregnancy, and one after the birth of her child. In the first iteration, Behind the Curtain, there is a gentle glisten of naiveté and anticipation in the woman’s eyes as she gazes out towards the viewer tenderly touching her womb. In Behind the Curtain II, this figure has lost her youthful glow. She confronts the viewer directly, shedding her uncertainty for resignation. This young woman begs our awareness, her lifted eyebrows a gesture of surmountable unhappiness. The recurrence of the yellow curtain acts as a metaphor for both works. It appears to draw in closer around the figure, signifying the inescapable nature of her situation.

Whereas some of Victor’s subjects demand to have their stories heard, others prefer to stealthily sidestep the spotlight. In Eziokwu (2021), a grim figure in military dress peers out from a soft pink background. There is a weariness in his expression and a sense of sorrow held in his slightly downcast eyes. He stares out at the viewer with white lips which seem to seep through the mask that is covering the bottom half of his face. With this work, Victor is speaking directly about the Lekki Toll Gate massacre, an incident in Nigeria where military personnel shot and killed harmless protesters. The work carries a somber tone as it exposes a community’s pain, allowing truth to bleed through opposition and concealment.

Victor envisions his painting process to be a strategic session in problem-solving. He draws from the experiences that have deeply affected him and those around him, often processing his emotions through the act of painting. In his self portrait, The Proposal (2021), Victor portrays himself sitting in a blue chair. He leans forward toward the viewer coercing a dialogue. This can be seen as the moment of resolve. He is coming to terms with turmoil and opening up to ways in which he, his community, and the world can evolve.

Kenechukwu Victor (b. 1995, Kaduna, Nigeria) lives and works in Lagos, Nigeria. He is a self-taught artist and holds a BA in Engineering from Madonna University in Akpugo, Nigeria.

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