Ekene Emeka-Maduka is a Nigerian artist currently living and working in Canada. Ekene’s practice is an on going study of the “self”. Maduka makes work that combines lived and formulated events relating to notions of displacement, self representation and reconstructing identity. Her work often investigates the effects of cultural, social and political exposure on developing individual identity and its relationship to communal experience.
It is an exploring of individuality and self-representation that translates her experiences to viewers who may or may not be familiar with the story being told. In her work, she aims to share a specific narrative that addresses Blackness, culture, her Nigerian heritage and femininity from a more personal viewpoint as supposed to asserting general statements regarding these topics.
In addressing femininity in her work, she reclaims the gaze that the well-known 19th century Odalisque shies away from holding with her viewers. For her, having the subjects of her paintings hold eye contact with the viewer creates a balance of power and humanizes the subject as such, which is a reoccurring theme.
This desire to represent herself and tell her own story came from a place of inquisitiveness and a longing to be a part of on-going conversations about diversity in society. Although her practice often deals with tackling topics attributed to seriousness, when addressed in the context of her paintings, these serious topics are often juxtaposed with satire, which in a sense comments on impulsive human nature to face momentous matters in easily digestible ways.
Much of what Maduka communicates seems to point in multiple directions all at once. We are seeing her over and over again in her works, and each time it’s like seeing her for the first time. Her approach to portraiture not only refocuses the potential for contemporary figural painting, but it reinforces the idea of creating a portrait as elliptical and irresolvable.
Ekene Emeka-Maduka was the 2018 winner of The Dean Collection 20 St(art)ups Initiative.
2020 “What is A Dream” Mirror Mirror Online Gallery
2020 “Walk Back Home” La Maison des Artistes Visuels Francophones, Winnipeg, Canada
2018 “Gather”, Flux Gallery, Winnipeg, Canada
2018 Plug In ICA’s 8th Annual Gala & Art Auction, Winnipeg, Canada
2017 “Carte Blanche” Ace Art Inc. Winnipeg, Canada
2017 “Install, Run and Strike” Ace Art Inc. Winnipeg, Canada
2020 1:54 Contemporary art Fair, solo booth, Polartics, London, UK
Portrait of the artist. Courtesy of the artist.