The Nigerian American artist Victor Ekpuk (b. 1964) is internationally renowned for his highly expressive multimedia works of art inspired by Nsibidi, an ancient system of communication from southern Nigeria and northwest Cameroon that features a rich ideographic script. Victor Ekpuk: Language and Lineage explores various themes that have unfolded in Ekpuk’s work over the last three decades. Using Nsibidi as well as characters borrowed from other cultures and his own vibrant systems of expression, Ekpuk celebrates the syncretism of our multicultural societies. In some instances, the artist’s drawings eloquently articulate his elaborate visual language to comment on political oppression, social issues, and police brutality. The reduced palette also gestures toward pictures that Ekpuk executed in his first occupation as a newspaper illustrator. Additionally, Language and Lineage presents the artist’s bold and dramatic series of heads, which serve as vessels for personal memory and knowledge—the beloved immaterial archives that migrants carry with them—and as living palimpsests in which cultural traditions and new life experiences overlap.
Curated by Annabelle Priestley, curatorial assistant