John Madu (born in 1983) is a Nigerian multi-disciplinary artist born in Lagos, best known for his figurative symbolic style of paintings, usually along the lines of the complexity of identity, social behavior and the effects of cultural globalization on individualism. His work can be described as eclectic because of how he derives ideas, from a various range of influences and sources based on popular culture, African history, art history and personal experiences. Symbolism is usually evident in his work, with reoccurring iconography such as books, apples, and other recognizable items which convey a certain meaning in art, and act as metaphors to a subject.
John’s source of inspiration is from a variety of places, but can be narrowed down to a few things that inspire a major part of his art works, which could be current situations affecting society, be it political, social or just banal everyday life issues. Giving him opportunities and reason to record the history of his time, with the aid of resource materials such as magazines, books, social media, news and even real time situations. He believes the best kind of art is a reaction to certain issues of interest and divulging information to educate and also entertain: “As much as I believe in the beauty of art in itself, I stand with the theory of ‘’significant form” and the aesthetic is experienced when the work of art stimulates an emotion, intellect and imagination. The aesthetics in viewing a work of art should be judged based on the feature of the artwork in itself, and not just based on preferences and personal experiences. The artist however should not be the sole judge of his or her work, as seen that in no other field of human activity where this would be possible”.
"Identity is a major theme in my work and, I believe is a way we as humans express ourselves, factors and conditions that an individual is born with, such as ethnicity, sexuality, race, gender, and even the physical composition of the body. However, aspects of our identities are never fixed, and peoples experiences can alter how they see themselves or are perceived by other individuals, this shift or change in cultural perception has been mainly as a result of facets of globalization, my work connotes skin color, indigenous patterns and a way of life that can be identified by a social group of people. I am known to paint portraits and the figurative identifying these factors of identity and capturing social everyday life sometimes in domesticated environments or spatial spaces. I would say the World has been influenced by cultural globalization, through, travel, technology and media, no culture I would say is totally original anymore, the world has become smaller and a diffusion of cultures has been overtly evident from music, to food and fashion, I am influenced by contemporary situations which are mostly universal and certain symbolic materials and iconography in my paintings show this."
With a B.sc in policy and strategic studies, John Madu has taught himself, how to follow a natural flow of research and idea development, exploring all possible concepts, until it is innovative and ready for high quality production, and above all to embrace his individual style, with a wide array of mediums such as acrylic paint, oil paint, spray paint, ink, burlap and collage. His multidisciplinary approach has guided his creative interest in design objects, sculpture, functional art, and even artistic fashion pieces. Madu’s art has been featured in contemporary art exhibitions locally and internationally he has collaborated with international brands such as DIESEL and Bombay Sapphire, and believes art should be perceived as a time continuum like the way we see nature and an instantaneous reflection of the creative part of ourselves being expressed, when a viewer comes in contact with his work.
2020 “Back to the Surreal” ARTNET, LITTY Contemporary, Cape Town, SA
2019 "The Next Wave: The Power of Authenticity and Self Validation", HAART, Hoxton Arches, London, UK
2018 "Identity Tones" One Artspace Gallery, New York, USA
2018 " Forestation", Didi Museum, Lagos, Nigeria
2017 "It’s Not Furniture", Omenka gallery, Lagos, Nigeria
2016 "Platform", ArtTwentyOne gallery, Lagos, Nigeria
2013 " Indigenes", Hamilton Prokleen Centre, Ontario, Canada
2020 Tokyo Art Fair, LITTY Contemporary, Tokyo, Japan
2020 Shanghai Art Fair, LITTY Contemporary, Shanghai, China
2020 LATITUDES Art Fair, LITTY Contemporary, Johannesburg, SA