Tonye Ekine’s Artwork Encapsulates Identity and History in Recurring Bronze Masks


Tonye Ekine’s distinctive use of Ife Bronze masks as a unique lens to mirror everyday experiences sets him apart from any other contemporary African artist. His compelling exploration of fleeting moments and candid observations of humanity have earned him recognition from the Royal Society of British Arts as one of the top 40 British Rising Stars. Earlier this year, Tonye Ekine hosted his first exhibition, One of Us, in London, curated by Steingold Contemporary.

Ekine began his artistic journey in the transient city of Ibadan, but it was not until a moment of eureka during his Masters in Art research at the Camberwell College of Arts that he realized he needed to center the Ife Bronze mask as his distinct motif.

This symbolic relic of Yoruba culture enables Ekine to create a powerful bridge between history and modernity. Through his art, he challenges viewers to look beyond the surface and recognize the timeless narratives that shape our lives, while reflecting on the ubiquitous and simplistic nature of humanity.

Earlier this year, Ekine was one of 60 fellows under the John Akomfrah-led British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. Despite his rising profile within the British art scene, he remains keen on reshaping the perception of the African art scene and widening the horizons for African artists both locally and globally. Ekine’s work is not just about personal success; it’s about fostering a greater appreciation and understanding of African artistry worldwide.

At its core, Tonye Ekine’s art is a celebration of humanity in all its complexity. It is a vibrant tapestry woven from the threads of history, identity, and the fleeting beauty of everyday moments. His distinct approach and profound thematic explorations make his work a significant and pivotal conversation-starter in contemporary art.

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