Rotimi Fani-Kayode (1955 – 1989)
19 September - 1 November 2014
Private view 18 September, 6:30 - 8:30pm
Tiwani Contemporary, in partnership with Autograph ABP, is pleased to present Rotimi Fani-Kayode (1955-1989), a solo retrospective of the work of this seminal and highly influential figure in 1980s black British and African contemporary art.
Although his career was cut short by his untimely death at the age of 34, Fani-Kayode nonetheless remains one of the most significant names in the history of black photography.
Curated by Mark Sealy and Renée Mussai of Autograph ABP, whose co-founder and first Chair was Rotimi Fani- Kayode, the exhibition marks the 25th anniversary of the photographer’s death. It will feature a selection of his most important photographic works produced between 1985-1989, including large-scale colour works and arresting black and white images.
Fani-Kayode’s photographic portraits explore complex personal and politically-engaged notions of desire, spirituality and cultural dislocation. They depict the black male body as a focal point both to interpret and probe the boundaries of spiritual and erotic fantasy, and of cultural and sexual difference. Ancestral rituals and a provocative, multi-layered symbolism fuse with archetypal motifs from European and African cultures and subcultures- inspired by what Yoruba priests call “the technique of ecstasy”. Hence Fani-Kayode uses the medium of photography not only to question issues of sexuality and homoerotic desire, but also to address themes of diaspora and belonging, and the tensions between his homosexuality and his Yoruba upbringing.
This exhibition coincides with the introduction in 2014 of new punitive legislation in Nigeria, as well as other countries in Africa, outlawing same-sex relationships and membership of gay rights organisations.