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Interview: Abdulrazaq Awofeso on the inspiration behind his solo exhibition, 'Broad Streets'

Ed Cross opens Broad Streets, featuring new portrait works by British-based Nigerian artist Abdulrazaq Awofeso (b. 1978, Lagos, Nigeria) building on concepts explored in his successful presentation at 1-54 Marrakech in February 2023. The exhibition runs 30 March through 6 May 2023. We spoke to Awofeso to get exclusive insight into his new body of work, his inspiration and his artistic process.

Art Report: Many factors feed into your pieces, but migration is integral to the body of work you have created. How has this shaped your art practice?

Abdulrazaq Awofeso: Being on the move at a very early stage of my career shaped this oeuvre of migration within my practice.

Portrait of Abdulrazaq Awofeso | Photo Credit: Tegen Kimbley

AR: You were born in Nigeria and have lived between there and the UK. Tell us how these locations have informed your creative process.

AA: I find the transition of working from Lagos to UK metamorphic while retaining the visual language.

Esho (2022) Pallet wood, acrylic paint | Courtesy of Ed Cross

AR: Your work is made from discarded pieces of timber which are Individually carved and painted by hand. Why is wood your preferred medium for creating your work?

AA: Wood and I have a symbiotic relationship that I find infinite in exploration. It gives me the continuous solace and contentment of materiality.

AR: This exhibition features a series of portraits based on characters observed an encountered on two roads (Broad Street in Birmingham, UK and Lagos, Nigeria). What is the significance of depicting both realities?

AA: Esho; is my go-to guy whenever I go to buy from the market in Broad Street Lagos. Anything you seek within that vicinity he can get for you. He's like a middleman between people who are unable to navigate or scan through the market may be due to the amount of time involved. So, he saves you time.

Subham; is an Iranian guy whom I met on the ub40 seat on Broad Street, Birmingham. He told me how he embarked on a treacherous journey from Iran to Turkey and then to the UK due to religious persecution.

AR:How do you want your work to be received by the masses? How do you want to shape the mindset of your audience?

AA: I'll allow the audience to engage with the work how they see fit.

About Abdulrazaq Awofeso

Abdulrazaq Awofeso (b. 1978, Lagos, Nigeria) is a sculptor and installation artist. He lives and works between Birmingham, UK, and Lagos, Nigeria. Recent exhibitions by Abdulrazaq Awofeso include Dakar Biennale (2016), STEVENSON, Cape Town (2016), Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil (2017–18), MAXXI, the National Museum of 21st Century Arts Rome (2018), Museum Arnhem (2020), Ikon Gallery (2022) and Ed Cross, Broad Streets, 1-54 Marrakech (2023). Forthcoming exhibitions include Museum Arnhem, Arnhem (2023). Awofeso's work features in prestigious private and institutional collections including Benetton Imago Mundi, Laurent Perrier, Deborah Goldman and Yemi Odusanya.

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