On June 1, 2019, celebrated Nigerian-born photographer Iké Udé’s Nollywood Portraits: A Radical Beauty will open at Alliance Française, located at Mike Adenuga Centre, Ikoyi, Lagos. The exhibition moves to Lagos having been presented at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, United States and the prestigious Rencontres d’Arles Photo Festival, France.
This substantial body of work which includes 64 individual portraits and a grand group portrait of all the subjects is Udé first solo exhibition in his native country. It features classically staged portraits of key members of Nigeria’s 3-billion-dollar film industry, Nollywood, the second – largest in the world. Personalities includes veterans such as actress Genevieve Nnaji, director Stephanie Okereke Linus and filmmaker Kunle Afolayan as well as the next generation of rising stars.
The thematic thread that intertwines this body of work, culminates in the centrepiece of the collection The School of Nollywood. The title is both a play on, and departure from the artistic opulence of Raphael Sanzio Urbino’s notable fresco, The School of Athens (1509). The painting depicts prominent Greek philosophers posed against a grandiose architectural framework. With his portraits, Udé challenges inferior Western stereotypes thrust on Africans, while presenting them as a people of great intellect and of creative agency.