Efulefu: The Lost One by Njideka Akunyili
3.3 ft. × 2.5 ft. 2011, Acrylic, charcoal, colored pencil, collage and xerox transfers on paper
Njideka Akunyili is Nigerian born 1983 in Enugu. She lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. She’s a recent MFA Yale University graduate and she was selected for the prestigious Studio Harlem residency program in 20112012. She is married to her American husband Justin Crosby, who is white. Her work conveys the story of immigration bringing her to her husband. Her art speaks about culture collision creates pieces from experiences of Nigerian and Western (American) culture.
Her paintings combine numerous materials, blending acrylic, charcoal, pastel and pencil with intricate collages. She also uses the technique of xeroxing hundreds of photographs and blends them together. She paints primarily on paper because paper is “the foremost being that the soft highly absorbent quality of certain printmaking papers is great for transfers.” and because she “likes paper because of the delicacy to it.”
In an interview, when asked of her inspiration, she said; “Piero, Titian, Velasquez, Manet, Degas and Balthus, also obscure artists like Hammershøi. For drawing inspiration I admire Holbein and more recently the Italian painter Bronzino because I like the sensuality he achieves with his surface using layers of glaze. I also love Kerry James Marshall, Wangechi Mutu, Malick Sidibé, Nontsikelelo Veleko and Yinka Shonibare. Literature coming out of Nigeria and the African diaspora also played a part in the development of my work.”
When asked about her the meaning and ideas behind her work, she said;“My art addresses my internal tension between my deep love for Nigeria, my country of birth, and my strong appreciation for Western culture, which has profoundly influenced both my life and my art. I use my art as a way to negotiate my seemingly contradictory loyalties to both my cherished Nigerian culture that is currently eroding and to my white American husband... My art serves as a vehicle through which I explore my conflicted allegiance to two separate cultures.”
Visual Analysis "Efulefu: The Lost One" is a collage with aspects of drawing, painting and printing made of different medias depicting a culturallymixed party. The different types of medias include: acrylic, charcoal, coloured pencil, collage and xerox transfers on paper. The artwork overall shows a scene of a culturally mixed party and the style would be described as surrealism.
The main focus is of an interracial couple in a slowdancing embrace, who is positioned in the middle of the artwork. The woman of the couple has dark brown skin with aspects of her, such as her forehead, made up of tinted brown photos to make a collage. On further inspection, all the collage aspects of the artwork are colourtinted photos of mostly Nigerian people, mostly women, in traditional Nigerian costumes. These collages give the impression that they are layered, giving texture and asymmetrical patterns. She wears a bright orange dress which contrast strongly against her dark skin and also her male partner, whom she is dancing with. Her partner has startling white skin and he wears a white tshirt and blue pants. Similar to the woman's forehead, parts of his tshirt and his beard is made up of collage.
The couple's background is the combination of what appears to be a wall and also other dancing people. On the left of the wall is a bright yellow with what appears to be light blue windows. Mainly a collage of browntinted photos and also a similar brown nettingpatterned print make up the right of the wall. Behind the main focus to the left is a man with skin colour the same as the woman in orange. He wears white pants and his shirt is made up of collage and same with his one visible arm. He also appears to be dancing with another