Obijiaku (b. 1995) was born in Kaduna, Northern Nigeria but has spent the last twenty years living in Suleja, a small town famous for its proximity to Abuja (the Nigerian Federal capital) and widely recognised as a town with a great pottery tradition.
Obijiaku’s creative journey started with sketches and comic illustrations blended into the margins of his class notes at secondary school. After work hours he would stay behind for hours sketching on his notepad. Those early sketches and alone time allowed him to hone his craft and sharpened his observational skills. He read people and perfected decoding their gaze. He studied the carefree, the wealthy, the working classes, those burdened with keeping the wheels of society turning and the diversity within, on a superficial level, a homogenous group of people. Obijiaku’s early pencil sketches were a form of release from the physical exertions of his job. A way to stimulate his mind, to find less clustered corners to freely imagine. He developed his particular style during that period with no formal art background or tutoring, simply continuing to nurture his obvious gifts as a draughtsman.
Obijiaku creates vivid and poignant portraits utilizing charcoal and texture to bring his subjects to life with dactylogram like lines, impressing notions of identity, space, patterns and typography. Close, focused observation of his styled portraits holds the viewers gaze in a a dizzying embrace. This mesmerising effect induced by concurrent and collinear lines running with no obvious starting point or no known end is deliberate and for the artist these lines represent life’s unpredictable journey.
2020: “Gindin Mangoro: Under The Mango Tree” ADA\ contemporary art gallery, Accra, Ghana
2020: “The Medium is the Message” UNIT London, London, UK
2020: “SAY IT LOUD (I’m Black and I’m Proud)” Christie’s, New York, USA
2020: “Black Voices / Black Microcosm” CFHILL, Stockholm, Sweden
2020: “Diaspora Unite! Artists of African Descent Benefit Auction”, Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD), San Francisco, CA, USA
2017: “Resurgence of Expression” National Gallery of Arts, Enugu, Nigeria
2017: “Exploring Nigeria” Korean Cultural Center, Abuja, Nigeria
Portrait of the artist. Courtesy of the artist.