By John Owoo
(In Accra – Ghana)
Gallery 1957 – a contemporary art space located within the plush confines of the Kempinski Hotel in Accra – is currently hosting multi-media works by the Togolese Nigerian artist Modupeola Fadugba.
Titled “Dreams from the Deep End”, the works, which are the result of a recent residency at the International Studio and Curatorial Programme in New York (USA), characterize paintings, drawings and socially charged installations that address various issues.
These include ideas of identity, social justice and a game theory that enable her navigate contested cultural hierarchies – while exploring community and teamwork in water – through the lens of tense racial history of communal swimming pools.
Largely influenced by “Contested Waters: A Social History of Swimming Pools”, a book by American author Jeff Wiltse, which explores the history of public pools and their privatization in relation to race politics and community life, Fadugba equally has an intense attraction for swimming pools.
Curated by writer Katherine Finerty, paintings on display boldly present an emphatic story while offering a clarification of the feelings and emotions felt by the swimmers – whether afloat or submerged beneath the calm waters of swimming pools.
Her familiar use of burnt paper, which she expertly drapes with gold leaves, pastel hues and monochromes is currently applied to new motifs that fully embrace lifeguards, melting ice cream cones, swimmers of varying ages, gender and perseverance.
Despite her previous work figuratively portraying swimmers, her latest paintings have moved from the ideas of abstractness to characterizing figures that shed personality and convey a story of collaboration and competition.
Born in Lomé (Togo), Fadugba has a background in economics, engineering and education and holds a BEng in Chemical Engineering / MA in Economics from the University of Delaware and MEd from Harvard University – all in the USA. She lives and works in the Nigerian capital Abuja.
Also an independent curator and art historian, Finerty focuses on research-based and socially engaged practices, trans local identity politics and contemporary African art. She works collaboratively to develop alternative cultural discourses while creating multi-disciplinary art experiences that encourage immersive participation and progressive exchanges between diverse publics.
Finerty has a Masters in Curating Contemporary Art from the Royal College of Art, London (UK), a BA in History of Art and Africana Studies from Cornell University, New York (USA) and has studied History of Art at Pembroke College, University of Cambridge (UK).
The exhibition ends on Wednesday October 31.