Deborah Segun (born 1994) is a multidisciplinary artist based in Lagos, Nigeria. She obtained a degree in Fashion Design at the Polimoda Institute of Fashion Design and Marketing in Florence, Italy in 2017. During her studies in fashion, she translated her own art production into clothing, creating conceptual and sculptural wearable pieces. Deborah’s works can be described as a mix between cubism and abstraction; she takes a playful, purist approach to her work by focusing on form rather than detail, through the use of different artistic mediums. Her works are mainly figurative with a focus on portraiture. The inspiration behind her works stem from her personal and shared experiences as a woman, as well as observations of any given space she occupies at a time. She tries to capture these experiences through her unique and experimental use of colours and shapes, which she believes creates a sense of simplicity and calmness out of a rather complex scenario. She exaggerates the figures or displaces them, as she believes it is her own way of confronting how she sees things. She also likes to isolate shapes from the subjects/ objects and put them together to create a new composition.
Deborah Segun adopts a deconstructed, reductive, and almost Cubist approach to her paintings, incorporating fragmented and exaggerated shapes, faces, and forms that delineate the female figure in contemplation or repose. Segun’s work exaggerates the feminine silhouette and is perhaps as much a commentary on the representation of women in an art historical context, (and the omission of black women therein,) from the exaggerated proportions of The Venus of Willendorf or the multi-perspectival views of Picasso, who is an obvious inspiration to the young Lagos based artist. More contemporary depictions of the African female form similarly adopt a deconstructed and vibrant view where the black female form is a site for complex socio-political meaning. Segun’s work, however, is – at least for the time-being – slightly more internalized. There is an element of truth that many artists need to self-reflect before turning the lens outward. And while inspired by her personal experience, and her awareness of her mental and physical sense of self, Segun’s choice to focus on the individual becomes a reference point for a much larger schematic: transitions and phases in her life, including self-hate to self-acceptance, are undoubtedly issues that many women – African and otherwise – have experienced. There is a sense of a young artist and woman coming of age in these works – they are simultaneously vibrant but also codified, obscured, and protected. These works serve almost as a visual diary of how the young painter continues to define and redefine herself in a larger context. Segun describes her practice as a way of challenging reality and pushing herself to create alternative ways to position herself in contemporary art and society.
Selected Solo Exhibition
2022 ‘THE LITTLE THINGS I NEED TO MAKE ME WHOLE’ ADA\ contemporary art gallery, Accra, Ghana
2021 ‘How to Fall in Love’ Beers London, London, UK
2020 ‘Being Free’, SMO Contemporary Art Gallery, Lagos, Nigeria
Selected Group Exhibitions
2019 ‘Eparapo, The Working Girls Forum’, A Whitespace Creative Agency, Lagos, Nigeria
2019 ‘Affordable Art Fair’, Arthouse Contemporary, Lagos, Nigeria
2021 The Breeder Gallery, Frieze New York
2021 The Breeder Gallery, Armory New York
2021 The Breeder Gallery, Frieze Los Angeles
2021 SMO Contemporary, 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, London
2021 The Breeder Gallery, FIAC Paris
Portrait of the artist. Courtesy of the artist.