Carbon 12 is pleased to announce the upcoming solo exhibition of Anthony Akinbola, Thanks A Million.
Anthony Akinbola is a Nigerian-American artist whose work is fundamentally built upon the philosophy of the readymade and investigation into his relationships with these same objects. Akinbola’s series of textile paintings focuses on the culturally and historically charged Du-rag; a garment used in the maintenance of African hair, as a primary means to explore and navigate a dialogue that is concerned with the intricacies and complexities of semiotics within American culture. Upon parsing the readymade object, Akinbola examines the intimate narrative of our individual and collective cultural associations to these objects, amplifying their seminal and perpetual role in the fragile construction of who we are.
Akinbola continues to dissect the multi-faceted aspect of the Du-rag, as observed in similar works from his previous exhibitions. Outside of its familiar usage as a tool manufactured for the preservation and care of African hair, in displacing the readymade object, Akinbola also subverts dynamics of power by situating it within a space that redefines its agency. Through this process, he uncovers its underlying ties to topics that concern the commodification of the African-American identity, and its vulnerability to structures of capitalism.
Upon emphasizing its transition from mass produced good to art material, Akinbola simultaneously transforms not only the object but the entire environment with his large-scale paintings. The fabrics exist in a spectrum of hues; flayed and draped, stretched and strung tight, intuitively weaved across a wooden panel. Their bold compositions permeate the space, immersing the viewer in their multi-layered fabrication, an allusion to the complex fashioning of identity. The Camouflage series taps into a ready-made tradition and delves into themes of hybridity, consumerism and race, Akinbola sees each new exhibition as an opportunity to reexamine and contextualize the work through a new lens.
Though not separated from their conceptual genesis, Thanks A Million focuses less on a didactic framework and more towards an interior one. Akinbola shifts emphasis towards the idea of thanks and the paintings act as affirmations of gratitude as the artist reflects on all that’s happened in the midst of such a turbulent year.
“I’d like to use the exhibition as an opportunity to pause and simply say thank you, to everyone and everything, there’s so much to be grateful for.”
At the core of Anthony Akinbola’s overarching body of work, the Du-rag amplifies a conversation concentrated on belonging and selfhood; topics Akinbola illuminates provide audiences with a greater critical awareness - the most crucial upshot from his works. Akinbola’s work charts a clear trajectory across past and present to redefine the genre of what is considered contemporary African Art and African-American art, and in continuing to adopt a multifaceted approach, the paintings undergo various transformations to withstand the ever-evolving discussion on identity.