Marcellina Akpojotor - 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale in association with Yongle Hong Kong Tuesday, November 29, 2022 | Phillips

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  • Marcellina Akpojotor’s richly textured paintings are windows into contemporary Nigerian society, celebrating the life of its women. Bold and bright, her intricately textured portraits explore femininity, womanhood and societal issues within the West African country, presenting her female subjects caught in moments of contemplation or reflection, or in small groups exchanging confidences. The matriarchal world to which Akpojotor’s works pay homage is rendered through brilliantly vibrant colours and the wise use of collage techniques and mixed media. Executed in 2021, Set to Flourish I marks the first time Akpojotor’s work has been offered at auction in Asia.


    “I go to a fabric store for my artistic process and buy these vibrant fabrics. It is very popular with the West Africans because you see them wearing very intricate garments. Some families will wear the same garment styles with the same fabric. In ceremonies, you see different families wearing different fabrics, which showcases the culture of the entire community. The fabrics in my work represent the community, and I am very interested in how the community shapes family.”
    Marcellina Akpojotor


    The Nigerian painter’s distinctive feature is her original utilisation of the Ankara fabric, a colourful patterned wax print omnipresent across West and Central Africa, which was introduced to the region by Dutch merchants during the 19th century. Ankara fabrics are partially inspired by batik, the traditional Indonesian textile printing method, and by the Akwete cloth designs from Igboland. Sourced from Nigerian fashion houses, these discarded pieces of fabric are inserted into Akpojotor’s artworks to stimulate reflections on the politics of textiles, and on the way objects can become cultural carriers and symbols of collective identity.



    The artist in her studio


    Set to Flourish I, is the graceful portrait of a short-haired young woman who perches on the edge of a large plant pot against a turquoise blue background. Her soft yet firm gaze boldly confronts the viewer, as she asserts her confidence. Both the figure and the vase have been composed of small cuts of Ankara fabric pieces collaged onto the canvas in a meticulous manner, as well as acrylic paint. Showcasing a distinct mastery of her medium, the present painting is exemplary of Akpojotor’s unique use of materiality.

    Akpojotor was born in Lagos, Nigeria, in 1989, and was introduced to visual arts by her father, who worked as a sign maker. Her first solo exhibition, She Was Not Dreaming, took place at Rele Gallery in London in 2018. Her oeuvre featured in the collective exhibition on the theme of black womanhood Mother of Mankind (23 July 2021 – 23 August 2021), a joint initiative of HOFA Gallery, London, and ADA/ Contemporary Art Gallery in Accra, Ghana. Her artworks are currently part of the show Poetics of Material held by Rele Gallery between London and Los Angeles (2 November 2022 – 17 December 2022).

    • Provenance

      HOFA Gallery, London
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      London, HOFA Gallery, Mother of Mankind, 23 July - 31 August 2021


Set to Flourish I

signed, titled and dated 'Marcellina Oseghale Akpojotor "Set to Flourish I" 2021' on the reverse
fabric and acrylic on canvas
152.4 x 121.9 cm. (60 x 47 7/8 in.)
Executed in 2021, this work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist.

Full Cataloguing

HK$100,000 - 150,000 

Contact Specialist

Danielle So
Specialist, Head of Day Sale
+852 2318 2027

20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale in association with Yongle

Hong Kong Auction 30 November 2022