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Arnolfini - est 1961

This Summer, journey into the lush landscapes of Nigerian artist Nengi Omuku‘s exhibition The Dance of People and the Natural World at Arnolfini.

Omuku’s human figures blend seamlessly with nature, exploring the relationship between individual and collective thought, belonging, and psychological spaces that transcend traditional Western landscape painting.

Featuring the monumental work Eden and new additions such as Quorum and Rumours of War, The Dance of People and the Natural World brings together pieces first shown at Hastings Contemporary in 2023.

Omuku’s rich, dreamlike color palette is heavily influenced by the muted tones of Sanyan, a pre-colonial Nigerian textile woven from moth silk and cotton, blending Western oil painting traditions with Nigeria’s textile craftsmanship.

Hung away from the gallery wall or suspended from ceilings, Omuku invites the audience to see both sides of each cloth, revealing symbolic artistry and patterns like prayers of fertility woven within. Her paradisical landscapes and gardens draw inspiration from real places like Monet’s Garden in Giverny and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Ibadan, as well as memories of her mother’s garden and imagined realms where flora and fauna take on fantastical forms.

Whether real or imagined, Omuku’s works offer landscapes to long for and find solace in, as she looks back at happier times and explores the slow passage of time, a continual theme since her solo exhibition Parables of Joy in 2022.

Nengi Omuku: The Dance of People and the Natural World originated at Hastings Contemporary in 2023-2024. It is one of two summer shows at Arnolfini alongside Adébayo Bolaji In Praise of Beauty.

a mono logo for Hastings Contemporary consisting a white background with the words Hastings Contemporary in black letters
A painting of a woman wearing a blue dress, facing the viewer with her arms crossed and her head turned to her left shoulder.
Nengi Omuku Untitled, 2022. Oil on sanyan 92 x 62 cm, 36 ¼ x 24 ⅜ in (PH10916)
Courtesy the artist. ©Nengi Omuku. Photography by Todd-White Art Photography.

About the Artist

Nengi Omuku

Nigerian artist Nengi Omuku’s exhibition The Dance of People and the Natural World at Arnolfini Summer 2024.

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