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A mixed media collage by Obinna Makata.

Obinna Makata uses fabric as a metaphor for cultural identity and evolving social values. His works create narrative associations that deal with quotidien issues in contemporary Nigerian society, including visa queues, abortions, and crowded work environments. Crudely sketched with ink and acrylic, Makata combines scraps of Ankara fabric to form the bodies and backgrounds of his figures. Makata graduated from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, in 2007, where he majored in sculpture. Makata is a full time studio artist who lives and works in Abuja and is the Founder and Creative Director of Mma-Nka Studio.

Makata considers each patch of his fabrics “a broken piece of African culture” exposing the omnipresence of foreign influences that threaten the traditional value systems and artistic processes unique to the continent.

In Makata’s mixed media collages, diverse visual elements such as ink drawing and cut fabric are used to form a combination of ambiguous bodies and intricately designed patterns. To describe the forms as “human” might not be the most precise metaphor, as the figures are rarely gendered and have disproportionate limbs and misshaped heads. The figures more closely resemble stick figure drawing or a child’s doodling, where there is a lack of technical expertise or a displayed mastery of painterly skill. This is not, of course, the result of a lack of artistic talent but rather a deliberate choice in how the conceptual message is articulated and negotiated by the viewer. Incorporated onto the figure’s bodies and composition are pieces of torn fabric and detailed pen drawing, where the somber tones of the ink contrast with the bright and colorful patterns of the textile designs. It is clear at first glance that Makata’s collages have an embedded tension in the contrasting tonalities and motifs, one that is in flux, combative, and unresolved. Makata’s collages reflect a clash of traditional artistic practices and contemporary influences, of the figurative and the abstract, and of the lighthearted and the threatening.

He has participated in over 25 group exhibitions, and held his first solo show, Meta History, in 2012, at the African Artists’ Foundation, Lagos, Nigeria. Other exhibitions include; Nigeria Now: Emerging Trends of Contemporary Art in Nigeria, Miami, Florida (2012); Mediations, Amsterdam (2013) and Blank Canvas at Art Twenty One, Lagos (2013). He completed an artist residency at African Artists’ Foundation in 2013."

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