Nengi Omuku - Whitechapel Gallery Art Icon Charity Auction London Thursday, January 12, 2023 | Phillips

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  • In this stunning print by Nengi Omuku, the face of a spectral figure is deliberately blurred. The figure appears to be floating, a dislocation of a scene that suspends it without context. The faintest demarcation of a stool invokes the physicality of sitting.


    Omuku is primarily a painter, known for ethereal scenes of oil paint on stitched together strips of sanyan, a Nigerian dress fabric made from wild silk. Here, the material is suggested – the figure’s dress recalls the striped patterns of sanyan


    With every work, Omuku considers ‘how the body is constantly selecting and gathering its identity; mentally, physically and emotionally’.i  She uses source material taken from current and archival images from the Nigerian press and media to explore the politics of the body and the complexities surrounding cultural heritage, race, and personal identity.


    In Naomi, her signature command of ambiguity and liminality brings focus to interior psychological spaces and how they manifest within the physical world. The figure is both someone and no one, resisting a singularity that instead embraces the collective experience.


    An edition of this print is in the collection of the Women’s Art Collection, Murray Edwards College, Cambridge, and is currently on display there.

    Omuku is the founder of TAOH, a charity in Nigeria that sees art as a pathway to mental wellness and renovates hospital rooms with art, in order to provide hope and improve the living conditions of patients.

    Nengi Omuku (b. 1987, Nigeria) lives and works in Lagos, Nigeria. She is currently an artist in residence at Kehinde Wiley’s Black Rock Residency in Dakar, Senegal, and has been championed by Katy Hessel in The Great Women Artists. Omuku received her BA (2010) and MA (2012) from the Slade School of Art, University College London. Recent solo exhibitions include those at the Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, London and Berlin (2020-21); Stages of Collapse, September Gray, Atlanta (2017); and A State of Mind, Omenka Gallery, Lagos (2015). Recent group exhibitions include Dissolving Realms, curated by Katy Hessel, at Kasmin Gallery, New York (2022); Self-Addressed, curated by Kehinde Wiley at Jeffrey Deitch, Los Angeles (2021); The Invincible Hands, Yemisi Shyllon Museum of Art, Lagos (2021); Karim Kal and Nengi Omuku, La Galerie, Contemporary Art Center, Noisy-le-Sec (2021); and Dancing in Dark Times, Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, London (2021). 

    i Nengo Omuku, quoted in Georgina Evans, ‘INTERVIEW: NENGI OMUKU ON HOSPITAL ROOMS’, SHOWstudio, 25 April 2018, online.

    • Description

      Image: Damian Griffiths

      Condition reports, Lot descriptions and information in respect of Lots included in this Online-Only Auction have been prepared exclusively by Whitechapel Gallery following Whitechapel Gallery’s assessment of the Lots. Phillips and its staff are not responsible in any way for such statements, representations or opinions or for any other information provided in respect of the Lots, whether by Whitechapel Gallery, on Phillips website or in any other form.

    • Provenance

      Donated by the artist and Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, London



signed, titled and numbered '5/30 NAOMI NENGI OMUKU Nengi Omuku' lower margin
Giclée print on paper
image 72.5 x 42.5 cm (28 1/2 x 16 3/4 in.)
sheet 80 x 55 cm (31 1/2 x 21 5/8 in.)

Executed in 2021, this work is number 5 from an edition of 30.

Full Cataloguing

£800 - 1,200 


Contact Specialist

Charlotte Gibbs

Head of Sale

+44 20 7901 7993

Whitechapel Gallery Art Icon Charity Auction

Online Auction 12 - 20 January 2023