Two or three sides of the same Story at Gallery 1957 in Accra, Ghana, is the latest exhibition by Gabonese artist Naïla Opiangah, on view through August 20, 2022, featuring works created by the artist during her two-month residency at the gallery.
This exhibition of Gabonese visual artist Naïla Opiangah presents general stories told from the point of view of her bodies, the figures she molds with her free, sumptuous and gestural brushstrokes in oil paint. Her work lies between abstraction and figuration.
From the beginning, the figures present seem to resemble the bodies of black women. Comparing her bodies to the putti, the universal cherubs of European paintings from the Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo periods, Naïla Opiangah considers them a temporary focal point. Like the putti, Opiangah’s bodies are a total substitute for humanity.
Through colorful variety and pictorial cues, the bodies of artist Naïla Opiangah occupy an expressly private and political function. They sit: in deep thought; at recreation; together trapped in delicate embraces.
By refusing to offer the observer the possibility of seeing their faces, Naïla Opiangah gives her bodies a register of intelligibility. In an age where the existences of black individuals are monitored by calculations and the separation of data sets, Naïla Opiangah’s movements toward anonymity are felt as a liberal endowment of adoration and plausibility.
Naïla Opiangah needs to normalize actually seeing Black women, their bodies, their excellence, and their habitual conversations without sexualizing or even less codifying them.
Constructing stories is as important a human impulse as any other. If there is one thing we know about the stories we tell, and about history itself, it is that an objective viewpoint cannot really exist.
It is undeniably shaped and tinged by the crystal of the lives we all lead: our childhood, our level of education, how our wounds can be repaired, the people who have nurtured and nourished us and those we have adored and supported in return.
The stories we relax show us how to act, and how to treat others. This is often a very delicate and granular activity. As a considerable number of stories that have been captured for some time unravel before our eyes, Naïla Opiangah offers us a way to construct something truly new.
These works present a strategic structure on several levels: for the world to see black women as they are: stunning, deserving of rest – above all human, and an extension towards developing who deserves our sympathy, and shifting our vision whose humanity and substantial independence matters.
The title of his exhibition, “Two or three sides of the same Story“, refers to the receptivity of the understandings in his scenes.
Each painting is meticulously named, offering an incentive towards its goal. The bodies are without delay delegated, explicit and completely dependent on the viewer for interpretation.
The goal, through the use of surface, painterly twists of blue, green and earthy colors, is to launch an uncontrolled observer into an ocean of translations, to appeal to the wonder of new understanding and the flexible idea of point of view.
Naïla Opiangah‘s cycle asks that we incline toward the full range of human experience, beyond what is accessible to us from the perspective of our own singular encounters.