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Lehmann Maupin Presents Retro Africa in New York

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“Do This in Memory of Us” is being presented by Nigerian gallery Retro Africa in collaboration with Lehmann Maupin at the New York gallery’s West 22nd Street location. 

Victor Ehikhamenor

On view through August 17, the group show includes work by Nigerian-American artist and writer Victor Ehikhamenor, Congolese painter Chéri Samba, and African-American artist Nate Lewis. It is Retro Africa’s debut exhibition in the United States. 

Chéri Samba,

Chéri Samba, “Je ne suis pas aimé,” courtesy to the artist and Lehmann Maupin.

The exhibition focuses on exploring resonances and divergences between African and African American art. “Do This in Memory of Us” examines the relationship between the ancient African kingdom of Benin featuring new works that express the cultural connections between the African heritage and the African American diaspora, building a cohesive theme around Ehikhamenor’s practice of storytelling. Known for his immersive installations, Ehikhamenor draws motifs from his childhood in Nigeria to explore themes of history, nostalgia, home, and spirituality. 

The artist’s series of new works alludes to Nigeria’s royal and colonial past and the forces that shape its future. A 30 by 15-foot tapestry, made from over 10,500 plastic rosaries sewn together is featured as a centerpiece of the exhibition. Collectively, it connects the past with the present, guiding the viewer to new meanings of ancient African cultures and beliefs in today’s world.

Victor Ehikhamenor

Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Samba started his career as a painter at a young age. After moving to Kinshasa at just 16 years old, he began to develop a body of work that combined representational painting with text. Samba’s paintings reveal his perception of the social, political, economic and cultural realities of everyday life in Kinshasa. The paintings on view offer an ongoing commentary on popular customs, sexuality, AIDS, and other illnesses, social inequalities, and corruption. 

Chéri Samba,

Chéri Samba, “Le Risque du métier,” courtesy to the artist and Lehmann Maupin.

Chéri Samba,

Chéri Samba, “Les relations inutiles,” courtesy to the artist and Lehmann Maupin.

Pittsburgh-born Lewis’ altered photographs focus on history through pattern, texture, and rhythm. His work is driven by empathy and the desire to challenge the viewer’s perspective. By using techniques of distortion and illusion, Lewis alters the perspective on race and history through his treatment of paper as he sculpts patterns resembling cellular tissue and anatomical elements. Lewis approaches his subjects for the purpose to uncover truths of history that are embedded in his photography.

Nate Lewis

“Do This In Memory of Us” invites viewers to understand narratives of Blackness, with each exhibiting artist drawing inspiration from historic and contemporary African life, and African and Western cultural traditions. Each of the artists represent different experiences, which are conveyed through their art in different manners and media. 

Nate Lewis

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THE WINTER EXPERIENCE ISSUE
2023

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