Retro Africa makes its New York debut with “Do This in Memory of Us” – Toni Kan

Retro Art Africa, the Abuja based boutique art gallery run by Dolly Kola-Balogun has made a splash in New York with a group exhibition proceeding under the theme “Do This in Memory of Us”. The exhibition is holding at the Lehman Maupin gallery and features works by African American artist, Nate Lewis, Congolese artist Chéri Samba and Nigerian artist, Victor Ehikhamenor.

The three artists drawn from the diaspora as well as Francophone and Anglophone Africa are, via their works, holding a conversation that riffs on the past, present and future of Africa.

Dolly Kola-Balogun, Gallerist, curator and head honcho at Retro Africa said the exhibition and the intersection it establishes between geographies is “important at a time when talks about restitution and reparation of looted artefacts from the Benin kingdom are on the front burner.”

Their works, in engaging with the past and present help to extend ongoing conversations around Africa’s storied past and its unfurling future especially from an artistic and cultural perspective.

Cheri Samba’s works are usually humourous depictions of the quotidian reality of his Congolese people.

Nate Lewis, a former nurse turned artist is a well-respected, self-taught artist whose predominantly black and white pieces reflect his medical training and black American heritage especially in the textures and patterns that recall African weaving and skin embellishments.

Victor Ehikhamenor, on the other hand is a self-taught artist whose works are steeped in tradition and religion. Borrowing heavily from the iconology of the uli design amongst others, Ehikhamenor has fashioned a bespoke iconography that is all his own.

His more recent works are carrying on an ongoing conversation with the colonial and transatlantic experience as well as the intersection of African tradition and judeo Christian religion.

“Do This in Memory of Us” runs from July 19 – August 17, 2021.

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