Adjani Okpu-Egbe

Community Man IV

22 February – 4 March 2019

Adjani was born in Kumba, Cameroon in 1979, and lived there until he was 14. He moved to England, and in 2010 devoted himself to being an artist. In 2012, Adjani was selected by the BBC to be one of twenty artists commissioned to capture the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee pageant. He has had many exhibitions over his artistic career, and he is the leading African-surreal Expressionist painter.

Adjani Okpu-Egbe is a distinctive voice amongst a new generation of African-born artists. His textured oil paintings have a strong social commentary, describing the artist’s political activism and interest in historical Black leaders, including the Kings and Queens of Africa.” – Knight Webb Gallery.

Adjani’s fourth in the series of exhibitions titled ‘Community Man’ serves to raise awareness and funding for those injured or displaced by the ongoing conflict in his homeland, Cameroon.

The war began by rebels seeking to form an Independent State. Many Anglophones have been calling for the region’s complete secession from Cameroon to form what is being called the ‘Ambazonia Republic.’ As such, a peaceful protest that began three years ago against the marginalisation of the Anglophone parts of Cameroon quickly turned violent, and the repercussions have been dire; brutal clashes between troops and Separatists, attacks on police stations, reports of mass kidnappings, extra-judicial killings and wide-spread burning of villages. At the beginning of February, a hospital in Adjani’s hometown Kumba was torched to the ground, leaving at least 4 people dead and many missing. The fighting has affected friends and members of his family directly, including loss of lives. As a result of the ongoing violence, the UN figures approximately 437,000 people have been forced out of their homes, with 32,000 fleeing to neighbouring Nigeria. And yet the conflict is rarely covered by British news.

Thus, Adjani’s intention for his solo show is to bring together members of our community, to build an understanding of other communities that they do not have any direct connection to, but nevertheless an indirect link to through consumption. As an example, most of the tea and coffee produced in Cameroon is exported to Britain and apparently one of the Queens favourite teas comes from a plantation near Mount Cameroon, the highest peak in West Africa. Due to the war, the production has now stopped. Adjani hopes that, even in a “small way,” his work might help create awareness of the war, and raise funds for those people whose lives have changed because of it.

Adjani has been a customer of Green & Stone for many years and the majority of the materials he uses come directly from our shelves.

“It is an honour to hold this exhibition of Adjani’s work.

Before Adjani had approached us we already greatly admired his visceral and emotional works so it was without question that we accepted his exhibition proposal. Ever since Goya’s series the Disasters of War and Picasso’s Guernica art has been crucial in bringing awareness to the horrors of war and its victims. Adjani’s exhibition now sits in a long tradition of bringing attention to the failures of humanity. 

This exhibition is especially important in that it seems in the UK particularly little attention has been given to the war in Cameroon. Indeed, I did not know of this war before Adjani had contacted us and it seems the media is failing to provide serious coverage. Hopefully this exhibition and the proceeds it makes will make some difference, and the victims of war, whichever side they are on, will not be forgotten.

However, not everything is gloomy. Adjani has brought to us a style of work uncommon in the UK, and his
Afro-Expressionist style is as fresh and as sharp as a lightning bolt, and is thrilling to see.”

— Green & Stone —

http://www.adjaniokpuegbe.com/

Watch to find out more about the conflict in Cameroon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ct_SLnAGDuM&feature=youtu.be