Alone, Together & Beyond
Alone, Together and Beyond is an exhibition of large acrylic and oil paintings by New York based artist Uzo Njoku. Her works take many forms, yet this exhibition focuses in on and showcases Njoku’s painterly skill and keen eye for design. A process of efficient yet fluid production, these works began as clean digital drawings. She considers the digital drawings a soft guideline, both in form and colour. Not too concerned with exact transcription, the works become something entirely different on canvas. The glossy oil and acrylic colours come to evoke feelings of pleasure, vulnerability, and nostalgia. The works in Alone, Together and Beyond now exist as powerful and majestic paintings that subvert the conventions of classical portraiture. Generously accommodated by Njoku, we, the contemporary viewers are given the space to construct our own personal narratives around the self-knowing yet compassionate artworks.
Uzo Njoku’s works rejoice in unions despite her subjects being mostly isolate. Her paintings are a fusion of fine art and design and celebrate the blend of her Nigerian- American cultural upbringing.
Njoku, with skill and a considered softness, creates another harmonious alliance between the human bodies present and the decorative. Once deeply informed by West-African Ankara patterns, Njoku is now making her own patterns so as not to adopt those already in continuation. The patterns in her current works are instead influenced by her subjects and the way they subsist on the canvas. The artist uses them as tools to create movement, or as fashions that reveal some about the subjects’ identities. This is particularly true of the female characters that she has always been inclined to paint as a woman herself. Recently, however, male figures have started to feature in her work as a response to the lacking male portraits that she sees in galleries and museums alike. Lacking, not in physical quantity of course, but in an emotional tenderness or longing.