In Conversation with Iké Udé

In Conversation with Iké Udé

Posted in Photography

Iké Udé wants to beautify Africa to the world, one portrait at a time. Throughout his colorful career, the artist has found creative ways to reject the stereotypes and negative portrayal of Africans rampant in Western media. His work initiates a cross-cultural dialogue on pertinent issues in society and cultural decay. Reviewing his main works, he shares evocative portraits that blend clothing, props and poses from many cultures at once into sharp takes on the varied, complex beauty of Africa.

In his Cover Girls (1994) series, Udé portrayed himself in various settings, imitating models on the cover of popular fashion or lifestyle magazines. The photographs were intentionally stylized, posed, photographed, and then paired with type matching that of the respected magazine. “I wanted to reimagine the magazine cover with imagery totally unexpected, yet profoundly reasonable,” he says.

In Sartorial Anarchy (2010), another series of self-portraits, Udé used items and motifs from various past and contemporary cultural styles, amalgamating them into his own distinctive aesthetic to depict an exaggerated vision of a dandy. “In each image, I married disparate costumes from widely diverse traditions, countries and time frames. And in mixing eras, cultures, I was able to bring harmony, as it were, to their similarly irreconcilable differences. These differences became a source of inspired artistic celebration,” he went on.

Finally, Udé presents the Nollywood (2016) series, which depict staged portraits of stars in Nigeria’s vibrant film industry. He orchestrated a dramatic atmosphere of light and colour, mixing the industry’s illustrious veterans with the emerging talents who pose in classically staged shots. With these works of portraiture, Udé complements the discourse on the representation of Africans in cinema, from colonial domination and inferior stereotypes to one of intellect and creative agency in telling our own stories.


Posted in Photography  |  April 24, 2021