Niyi Olagunju, 'Lega', 2016
Bisected wood sculpture, polished gold and stainless steel foil set on black patinated steel stand, 87 cm (height), Courtesy of TAFETA
Niyi Olagunju, 'Lega', 2016 Bisected wood sculpture, polished gold and stainless steel foil set on black patinated steel stand, 87 cm (height), Courtesy of TAFETA 

Olagunju’s contemporary appropriation of traditional African sculptures continues his exploration of global trade and, in his words, ‘the absolute commoditization of everything’. The sculptures –usually exhibited alongside preparatory sketches – are bisected vertically with their internal surfaces coated in metals mined from the original region of source. Through this process, Olagunju’s project questions the shifting value system that drives the continuing growth in the sale of traditional African artifacts. His use of precious and semiprecious metals considers the complex relationships that emerge from the exploitation of natural resources on the African continent, and its subsequent effects on communities and their cultural legacies.

Olagunju studied Fine Arts at Yaba College of Technology, Lagos, and St. Anne’s College, Oxford University. He holds an M.A. Fine Arts (with specialisation in Sculpture) from Texas Christian University (TCU), Texas, US. A prize winning photographer, Olagunju was also active with the Royal Engineers (British Army) for four years, involving two service postings to Basra, Iraq & Northern Ireland.