Ken Nwadiogbu (b. 1994, Lagos, Nigeria) is a multidisciplinary artist who creates innovative conceptual works that explore black identity and make more visible people of colour, even those in diaspora, within the context of broader issues. It is his desire that through his work, he is able to invite viewers to ponder and critically examine socio-political structures in this present day. Gender equality, African culture, and Black power are a few aspects of his current research and artistic practice.
Nwadiogbu earned a B.Sc. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Lagos, Nigeria. His interest in art, as well as his career, began while he earned his degree despite no formal training. Inspired by issues relating to him and those around, he began creating works that react to the society, with the hopes of making a change in his community.
Popularly known as KenArt, Nwadiogbu is credited for introducing the “Contemporealism” movement and was named by Guardian Life as one of the most “Outstanding Personalities” in Nigeria. In 2019, he was awarded the prestigious The Future Awards Africa in recognition of his contributions to the Nigerian arts community. A core focus for him is to inspire and encourage young creatives. He does this through public speaking and mentorship, as well as through his creative companies. He nurtures an art collective called ‘Title Deed’ and co-found Artists Connect NG, the largest artist gathering in Nigeria, created to foster creativity, collaboration and community.
Ken Nwadiogbu is constantly revitalizing his practice by challenging modes of Black representation. His oeuvres do not just encompass various forms of painting but most recently transcends into photography, sculpture, installation, NFT and video.
We are all heroes in our movies.
My artist lens is one of a focused bystander experiencing my reality while observing the world around me. That world could be my local community, my country of Nigeria, my studio in England, or any of the living workspaces I have adopted globally.
Wherever I am, I always feel the need to analyse, investigate, and perceive the news around me. I accept the significant roles of ethnographer and strategic visionary that we artists have played in society throughout history. My artistry reflects my human experience and acts as a social commentary on the experience of others, so for me, that role comes with a need to be empathetic when understanding and representing the characters captured throughout various contexts in my art.
My art-making process allows me to discover and reveal who we truly are at our core, whether in a moment or in a movement. You cannot fully understand a person by just looking at their physical construct, there’s far more understanding when you begin to see through the person, see eye to eye with the person who has felt it.
One may find a reflection in the contemporary realism of my drawn faces, or in the painted expressions of symbols, fashion, or home décor – ultimately, my goal reaches beyond realism and lies in a space between authenticity and possibility.