Selected Works

Oscar Ukonu was born in 1993 in Nigeria.

Ukonu is a visual artist living and working in Lagos, Nigeria.

Through an iconography of personal and cultural references, Ukonu constantly explores black identity and pride in an increasingly globalized world, around an idea and style he refers to as Afrorealism.  

Relentless in his meticulous approach to detail, Ukonu bathes his sitters in ethereal light – his dexterity and mastery of the ballpoint pen evident in the careful juxtaposition of broader strokes and intricate finer lines to heighten areas of interest and create an illusion of stark reality. 

He defines his process as “a practice in time and patience”, working approximately 200 to 400 hours on a decently sized piece. Finding words as a limiting form of expression in a visually colourful world, his art serves as a medium to lend his voice in engaging pertinent issues in the society. Oscar Ukonu was part of the seminal exhibition “ Insanity “ at Omenka Gallery Lagos, and his works can be found in several significant collections in Nigeria and globally.

 

Artist Statement 

My work reflects on personal and cultural background in addressing African identities, while constantly exploring gender, sociopolitical status, and religion, across generations of African experience. Finding words as a limiting form of expression in a visually colourful world, my work serves as a medium to lend voice to engaging pertinent issues in the society and environment – how we perceive and react with it. With my work, I look at the role of sociohistorical influences on contemporary identities, believing  identities as socially constructed and constantly changing.

I describe my creative process as a practice in time and patience, working approximately 200 to 400 hours on a project. I approach every project as a research work that involves processes of writing, sketching and photography before the final drawing.  

As part of my existential experience as an artist, I aim to provoke thought and engage my audiences intellectually with my work through visual dialogues that establish a relationship with the viewer, and set to encourage their participation to the same extent as my involvement in it.

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