Niyi Olagunju, Ekpiri #2, 2017, Pods of Ekpiri seeds, gold leaf and copper wire, 140 x 128 x 4 cm. Courtesy TAFETA
Niyi Olagunju, Ekpiri #2, 2017, Pods of Ekpiri seeds, gold leaf and copper wire, 140 x 128 x 4 cm. Courtesy TAFETA  

Olagunju studied at Yaba College of Technology, Lagos, the Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford and Texas Christian University, Fort Worth. An award-winning photographer, Olagunju’s background comprises a four-year stint with the Royal Engineers of the British Army, involving two service postings to Basra, Iraq and Northern Ireland.

Presented at the fair are works from Ekpiri, an ongoing sculptural series using the pods of ekpiri seeds, typically threaded together to create percussive anklets worn in Igbo dance. Stringing these pods in rows, the artist has gilded the seeds in various precious and semi-precious metal leaves, concealing their earthen tones. Minimalist invocations of dynamic subjects, the series demonstrates Olagunju’s propensity towards reconfiguring historicised matter. Evocative of the draped aesthetics of El Anatsui, but rooted in traditional dance and music, Olagunju’s works build a critical conversation around cultural legacies, natural resources and African export and trade cultures.