GROUND LEVEL, COLES COURT ADJOINING GALLERY 1
NIGERIA, BORN 1987
LIVES AND WORKS IN LAGOS
Nigerian photographer Lakin Ogunbanwo is known for his elegantly styled, subtly erotic portraits. Included in NGV Triennial are a suite of ten portraits (2015–17) of a young man wearing various traditional Nigerian hats. Photographed from behind, Ogunbanwo’s model is shown against a plain white backdrop, the uniformity of his approach deliberately placing emphasis on the striking individuality of each of the headdresses and the beauty of his model. Discussing these works Ogunbanwo wrote: ‘I began shooting traditional men’s headwear as a way to preserve my culture and to observe how it has trickled down to my generation in the way we mix them up with contemporary fashion. There are so many different hats and each one is associated with a certain Nigerian tribe. This series is also a way of realising a silent message about patriarchy in Nigerian society. Who are the men who wear these hats and how do they see themselves? What hat you wear [and] the way you wear it says a lot about your age and position in life. A hat is a silent badge of grandeur in a way.’ Central to Ogunbanwo’s work is a celebration of being Nigerian and striving to counteract the West’s monolithic view of Africa. The artist goes beyond a homogenised ‘African experience’ to speak of a specifically Nigerian one.
Lakin Ogunbanwo was born in Lagos, Nigeria in 1987. He works in portraiture and fashion photography and has had his work published in magazines including ID, British GQ, and Riposte Magazine. Ogunbanwo studied law at Babcock University, Nigeria and Buckingham University, England, before taking up photography in 2012. He began exhibiting his portraits in 2013 and in 2015 he was recognised by the British Journal of Photography as one of the top 25 emerging photographers globally. Since then his work has been included in the 2016 Lagos Photo Festival and Africa Now. His most recent solo exhibition was E wá wo mi, shown in Cape Town in 2019.
The NGV warmly thanks Triennial Major Supporter Bowness Family Foundation for their support.