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A Continent Takes the Stage as Thought Pyramid’s NOK Goes Pan-African

The Thought Pyramid Centre | Lagos, Nigeria

The Thought Pyramid Art Centre (TPAC) is shaking things up with the latest iteration of its prestigious Next of Kin (NOK) competition and exhibition. Dubbed "RENEWED HOPE: The Continental Season," the sixth edition marks a dramatic shift by welcoming artists from across Africa for the first time.



Courtesy of Thought Pyramid Centre
Courtesy of Thought Pyramid Centre


This expansion reflects a long overdue recognition of the continent's burgeoning artistic talent, and NOK is poised to become a launchpad for a new generation of pan-African masters.


Previously a platform for rising Nigerian stars, NOK is shedding its national skin and embracing a continental identity. This year, four non-Nigerian finalists stand alongside their Nigerian counterparts, a powerful symbol of NOK's commitment to dissolving boundaries and fostering creative exchange. The 20 finalists, selected from a record number of entries, represent the very best of contemporary African art.


The 20 finalists for this 6th series are Martin Senkugbuge (Uganda), Yakno Ene, Adenuga John Opeyemi, Emeka Amadi, Victoria Ndubuisi, Elie Hatungimana (Rwanda), Opara Courage, Oladeji Emmanuel Adeniji, Joseph Miegbolabofagha Daya.


Others are Adenle Olukunle Sunday, Cliff Kibuuka (Uganda), Omoyeni Ogedengbe, Mek-Abasi Effiong, Chinedu Raphael Chidebe, Abdlquadr Olamide Ojelade, Abdulrazaq A. Titilayo, Awoleye David Olusegun, Betzalel Alvin, Jayeola Damilola Joshua, and Evans Akanyijuka (Uganda).


These rising stars wield a diverse arsenal – oil on canvas, mixed media, metal, and even charcoal and newsprint on canvas – to tell visual stories that resonate with the human experience. Martin Senkugbuge (Uganda) tackles the complexities of identity for those with vitiligo, while Abdulrazaq Titilayo (Nigeria) explores the profound influence of parents on their children.


Victoria Ndubuisi (Nigeria) weaves a tapestry of past, present, and future through paintings inspired by her father's 1970s photographs, highlighting the dramatic metamorphosis of Lagos and London. Joseph Daya (Nigeria) casts a critical eye on globalisation's impact on African culture. At the same time, David Awoleye (Nigeria) employs vibrant 'ankara' on canvas to express the poignant ache of separation from a loved one who has emigrated. Each artist creates visual experiences that someone in the audience can identify with or recognize.





This pan-African turn signifies a renewed hope for artistic exchange and recognition across the continent. The exhibition, from April 8th to 30th, provides a platform for all 20 finalists to showcase their talents and gain a wider audience.


But NOK isn't just about exposure. There can only be one winner of the prestigious 500,000 Naira prize. And this year, history was made – Yakno Jessica, a rising star in abstract realism, clinched the top prize with her powerful work "Hopes Embrace." This marks only the second time a female artist has triumphed at NOK, following Anthonia Nneji's win in 2018.



Winner Jessica Yakno | Courtesy of Thought Pyramid Centre
Winner Jessica Yakno | Courtesy of Thought Pyramid Centre


Jessica's perseverance – her third attempt at NOK – is a testament to the relentless spirit of African art, and a thrilling harbinger of what's to come on the continental stage.



 


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A Continent Takes the Stage as Thought Pyramid’s NOK Goes Pan-African

April 11, 2024

Obidike Okafor

2 min read

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