• Sunday, May 26, 2024
businessday logo


Tony Nsofor pushes creative boundaries in ‘Citizens of Nowhere’

Tony Nsofor pushes creative boundaries in ‘Citizens of Nowhere’

From September 30 to October 21, 2023, an enterprising Nigerian artist will be taking over the visual art scene in Lagos in one of the highly anticipated exhibitions of the year.

Tony Nsofor, a contemporary Nigerian artist and master painter, who now lives in the United States of America, is offering art lovers and the public a piece of himself in a body of work that challenged his creative ingenuity.

Tony, who is in the first year of an art residency at Torpedo Factory Art Centre, Alexandria, Virginia, United States of America, is showcasing 25 recent works from his ‘Citizens of Nowhere’ series, which is also the tittle of the exhibition at O’da Art Gallery, Samuel Manuwa Street, Victoria Island Lagos.

The works are all from his residency project and are topical, engaging and probing too.

The University of Nigeria Nsukka trained painter, is trailing personal experiences, exploring cultures and asking relevant questions with his works across acrylic on canvas, oil, paper and mix media at the exhibition.

‘Citizens of Nowhere’, according to him, is his journey and is more biographical.

Read also: Bi-Courtney enhances travel experience with investment in art gallery at MMA2

“At a point I realised that traveling meant that I became another person. So, people were looking at me for an introduction and to meet a Nigerian. I started questioning what makes one Nigerian. you have an experience that is not bound to a location.

“With the Internet we can have a personality that spreads across borders. The physical borders, boundaries and geographical locations and all that, no longer restrain us like they did 20 years ago.

“That is why I am very present in Nigeria and at the same in the US and China and still have so much information and interaction.

“These opened my eyes to the realization that you can go beyond all these artificial borders and we can become citizens of everywhere and nowhere,”

Speaking on the inspiration for the series, he said, “The more I traveled, the more I felt alienated and estranged, I formed alliances with people everywhere. There is a certain frustration with the system that did not acknowledge one’s presence. These are some of the agitations of being a migrant, also the nostalgia of homeland never leaves you. This complex feeling attracts how I see reality so much and will continue to see reality right now because it is still there,”

Explaining the works in the series, particularly ‘Wig dey, Sword Nearam Alarm Blow’, an acrylic on canvas painting, he said, “I finished it last month and it was from studying what was happening in Nigeria with the elections and then the #alleyesonthejudiciary came up.

“The wig represents the judiciary and the sword references the statue of justice. But this time, the sword becomes two ways; are we going to get justice or will the people fight for justice.

“It is at the point that the decision has been made by the court and we are waiting for the aftermath.

Looking at the work, you want to make meaning of what you see, you are learning and making observations”.

On the residency, he expressed his excitement at being at the Torpedo Factory Art Centre, Alexandria, Virginia, United States, a centre that has been in existence since 1974, which brings a group of artists, about 165 in one space to work together.

On her part, Sunshine Alaibe of O’da Art Gallery and curator of the exhibition, said that the title is reflective of what the works are.

Read also: How Cape Town, Western Cape Convention Bureau is driving tourism, trade between Nigeria, SA

“In 2009, Tony Nsofor started traveling a bit.

While traveling he realized that it was an opportunity to meet people and experience cultures.

But he also felt alienated by doing so and serving other people’s interest. That is how the Citizens of Nowhere series started. It reflects his personal experience and documents other people”.

On what to see at the exhibition, Alaibe said, “You will see all the shapes, deliberate and non deliberate ways of drawing faces, all the compositions; different bodies and faces all tightly packed together”.

Citizens of Nowhere runs from September 30-October 21, 2023 at

O’da Art Gallery, Victoria Island Lagos.