The Return of Ike Ude at Alliance Française

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Ike Ude (Photo by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders/Corbis via Getty Images)

Yinka Olatunbosun

Nigerian-born, New York-based fashion photographer and artist, Ike Ude might have been away from Nigeria for a while but his presence is very palpable. Since his last publicised appearance during an artist talk session organised by the African Artists’ Foundation (AAF) at the Ford Foundation building in Banana Island, Lagos some years ago, not much had been heard until a recent screening of his documentary movie on Nollywood at the IREP Documentary Film Festival.

Now, the art community in Lagos is set to receive him again on June 1 at Alliance Française, Mike Adenuga Centre, Ikoyi where his photo exhibition, titled Nollywood Portraits: A Radical Beauty, will take place. This is his debut show in Nigeria.

Ude, a master of light and colour, will parade giants of the Nigerian movie and television screen in classically staged shots. Some of the leading figures to be featured in this show are Genevieve Nnaji, Stephanie Okereke Linus and Kunle Afolayan. In total, 64 Nollywood greats rendered in elegant style will make a worthwhile eye feast.

The show, which runs from June 1 till 16, offers a special collection, titled “The School of Nollywood”. The title is considered as both a play on and departure from the artistic opulence of one of Raphael Sanzio Urbino’s notable 1509 fresco, “The School of Athens”. The painting is of a grandiose architectural framework depicting prominent philosophers of Greek antiquity, posed in a towering position.

Through this collection, Ude examines the representation of Africans in cinema culture, from negative stereotypes occasioned by colonial domination to intellects telling the true African stories. Ude has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions, with critical reviews in Art in America, The New Yorker, Art Daily, L’UOMO, Vogue, Flash Art and The New York Times. His articles on fashion and art have been published in magazines and newspapers worldwide.

Ude’s work has been exhibited at Leila Heller Gallery, New York (2013), the Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence (2013), the Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis (2014), the Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam (2014), the Palm Springs Museum of Art, Palm Springs (2015), and the National Academy Museum and School, New York (2015), amongst others. Ude’s work is in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian National Museum, Washington D.C, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Museum of Art and Design (MAD), New York; the New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain, CT, The Sheldon Museum of Art Lincoln NE and the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) Museum, Providence, RI.