Art@Bainbridge | Victor Ekpuk: Language and Lineage

Victor Ekpuk (born 1964, Eket, Nigeria; active Washington, DC), In Deep Water, ca. 2012, printed 2023. Digital drawing printed on canvas, 223.5 × 254 cm. Collection of the artist. © Victor Ekpuk

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

View an online gallery of works in this exhibition.

Download the exhibition brochure (PDF).

Art@Bainbridge is made possible through the generous support of the Virginia and Bagley Wright, Class of 1946, Program Fund for Modern and Contemporary Art; the Kathleen C. Sherrerd Program Fund for American Art; Joshua R. Slocum, Class of 1998, and Sara Slocum; Rachelle Belfer Malkin, Class of 1986, and Anthony E. Malkin; Barbara and Gerald Essig; Gene Locks, Class of 1959, and Sueyun Locks; and Ivy Beth Lewis. Additional support for this exhibition is provided by the Africa World Initiative; the Program in African Studies; the Graduate School—Access, Diversity and Inclusion; the Department of African American Studies; the Princeton African Humanities Colloquium; the Department of Music; and the Program in Linguistics.