WHEN tennis royalty Naomi Osaka guest-edited an issue of Racquet magazine she commissioned Wellbeing, a painting by the Nigerian visual artist Dennis Osadebe for the cover image.
Naomi and Osadebe’s work were subsequently featured by Louis Vuitton on the luxury brand’s Instagram page.
‘For the cover I chose the Nigerian visual artist Dennis Osadebe. I have a few pieces of his in my house and I think he’s awesome,’ Naomi Osaka wrote in Racquet Magazine as Guest Editor.
This week Osadebe will premier Inside Out, his solo artistic presentation of works at Brooklyn’s Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA) for its reopening on Friday, October 29.
Inside Out is a participatory experience consisting of a virtual exhibition and ‘Playful Rebellion,’ an interactive game developed by the artist. Together they explore the foundational themes of his practice such as history, innovation, heritage, and the possibilities of the future.
Osadebe’s work creates a pivotal questioning towards where the collective social reckoning against police brutality and white supremacy will take us next. The pieces were created in response to the following questions the artist sought answers: ‘Does the armour that we wear shield us from public harm or protect us in private spaces?’ ‘Do we recognise ourselves in the performance of those identities?’ ‘Where do we take shelter?’ ‘Are we strangers at home?’ and ‘What resides in this living testimony teetering between two pandemics, structural racism and Covid-19?’
With his characteristic use of flattened planes, minimalist geometric shapes, and bold colours, Osadebe works in what he refers to as a ‘NEO’ visual style, one that is modern, bright, and expressive. Osadebe coined the cultural movement, ‘Neo-Africa’ as a response to deconstruct the limiting, lazy term of ‘African Art’. This encourages people to rebrand tradition in a way that reflects the transforming world.
Dennis Osadebe is a Nigerian mixed-media artist, based in Lagos. Osadebe’s vibrant post-pop style is centred around the idea of reimagining Africa through the use of positive, provocative, and progressive imagery, and narratives, forging a dialogue where tradition meets invention and innovation. Through juxtaposing elements of the past alongside the present, while utilising his Nigerian heritage as a starting point, Osadebe places Africa in the context of the future and its limitless possibilities.