Njideka Akunyili Crosby Artsy Editorial interview

In Massive Paintings, Njideka Akunyili Crosby Pushes Post-Colonial Narratives Forward.
By Charlotte Jansen.


Every painting tells a story. The massive paintings of Nigerian, Los Angeles-based artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby—her works stretch more than 11 feet in height or width at times, or more, if you consider her recent billboard commission at the Whitney in New York—tell many. They tell stories of colonialism and cosmopolitanism; they speak in English and Igbo. Just as a story is understood differently depending on where you come from, Akunyili Crosby’s paintings offer different perspectives, depending on where you stand.


In her first U.K. solo exhibition this October, “Portals” at Victoria Miro, London, Akunyili Crosby has taken this sense of perspective a step further. She’s delved into what post-colonial scholar Homi K. Bhabha dubbed the “third space”—a liminal in-between where cultures converge, and are conflated. This idea quite literally surfaces in Akunyili Crosby’s many-layered paintings, where the closer you look, the more you see. At a distance, her enormous tableaus are gorgeous depictions of domestic daily life—a young woman seated at a table set for breakfast, or an intimate moment shared between a couple in a living room, for example. But as you approach these paintings, a different narrative emerges: Close in on these works, until your nose almost touches the paper, and you can make out countless images within the images. Akunyili Crosby fills her paintings with acetone photo transfers of Nigerian pop stars, politicians, military dictators, Nollywood stars, and celebrities she would see on TV, growing up in the ’80s, as well as personal snapshots.


“The show represents a full year’s worth of work,” the artist tells me. “I’m excited about seeing this much work in one space. It’s really rare to have an exhibition with works that hit different notes, so people see the various aspects of my practice.” She invites visitors to venture through the works as though they were stepping through portals; it’s not a journey into the past or the future, but into personal spaces, at present. “I like thinking of these works as openings into someone else’s life, so you feel invited in to experience a very private moment or space, and I think that enhances the intimacy,” Akunyili Crosby explains.

A mesh of old and new imagery, as well as traditional and modern media—in addition to photo-transfers she uses acrylic, charcoal, and colored pencils—process is essential to Akunyili Crosby’s cosmopolitan style. She’s influenced as much by European masters as by the household products that she collects in Nigeria. One gets a very physical sense of perspective through her works; you’re led instinctively to the big picture ideas about the way cultures, histories, and identities intertwine.


Read more

Artsy Posted 4 October 2016

Victoria Miro

16 Wharf Road
London N1 7RW
t: 44 (0)20 7336 8109


View map

Victoria Miro Mayfair

14 St George Street

London W1S 1FE

t: 44 (0)20 3205 8910

View map

Victoria Miro Venice

Il Capricorno, San Marco 1994,

Calle Drio La Chiesa

30124 Venice, Italy

t: +39 041 523 3799 

View map



Victoria Miro New York – Office

534 West 24th Street
New York, NY 10011, USA
t: +1 (212) 229 2400

Opening Times

London: Tuesday–Saturday: 10am–6pm. 


Venice: Tuesday–Saturday: 10am–1pm & 2–6pm. During August, Monday–Friday: 10am–1pm & 2–6pm. 


We are also closed on Sundays, Mondays and public holidays. 

Admission free. Large groups should please contact the gallery in advance to book a visit.



All general enquiries should be sent to  

Victoria Miro does not accept unsolicited artist applications.


Before contacting or subscribing please read our Privacy Policy


We respect the choices you make about how you would like to hear from us. You will find links at the bottom of all emails we send from our mailing list which allow you to Update your preferences to change the way we contact you, or Unsubscribe if you want to opt out.


Staff contact details


Victoria Miro
W.P. Miro
Glenn Scott Wright
Divya Pande
Executive Assistant to Directors
Direct line: +44 (0) 207 324 0903


Director of Sales and Performance
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7336 8109
Matt Carey-Williams
Senior Director of Sales
Direct line: +44 (0) 203 962 4345
Director, Mayfair
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0494
Elke Seebauer
Director, Venice
Direct line: +39 041 523 3799
Clare Coombes
Director of Sales - Museum Acquisitions
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7324 0919
Anna Fisher
Director of Sales - Americas
Direct line: +1 212 229 2400
Oliver Miro
Director of Sales
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0496
Alessandra Modiano
Director of Sales
Direct line: +44 (0) 203 962 4346
Mary Eleanor McNicholas
Art Fair Co-ordinator
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0498
Louis Blanc-Francard
Sales Executive & Assistant to Matt Carey-Williams
Direct line: +44 (0)20 3205 8910
Fern Warriner
Mayfair Coordinator & Sales Administrator
Direct line: +44 (0) 203 205 8910
Gallery Manager – Venice
Direct line: +39 041 523 3799
Aileen Dowling
Sales Team Coordinator & Sales Administrator
Direct line: +44 (0) 203 962 4344
Eilidh Watson
Front of House and Sales Assistant
Direct line: +44 (0) 207 336 8109


Erin Manns
Director of Exhibitions - Head of Department
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0423
Rachel Taylor
Director of Exhibitions
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0431
Director of Exhibitions
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7324 0918
Mary Taylor
Production Manager
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0424
Special Projects and Production
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0426
Isabelle Young
Exhibitions Assistant
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7336 8109
Exhibitions Assistant
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7324 0901


Kathy Stephenson
Director of Communications
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0422
Martin Coomer
Head of Editorial and Digital Content
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7324 0915
Marisa J. Futernick
Digital and Social Media Consultant
Direct line: +1 (860) 549-2576
Hannah van den Wijngaard
Photography, Rights and Reproduction Manager
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0428
Press and Marketing Co-ordinator
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7324 0912
Communications Assistant
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0499


Robert Holzberger
Director of Operations
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0495
Emer Bermingham
Operations Manager
Direct line: +44 (0) 203 962 4349
Adeline Guy
Head Registrar
Direct line: + 44 (0)20 7324 0916
Jayne Archard
Direct line: +44 (0)207 324 0910
Alice Panton
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7324 0904
Clare Rowe
Paper Archive and Records Manager
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0493
Elina Pelvanidi
Registrar Assistant
Direct line: +44 (0) 203 962 4348
Buildings and IT Manager
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7324 0914
Katrina Millar
Front of House and Events Co-ordinator
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7336 8109
Philip Ewe
Library Coordinator and Archive Assistant
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7336 8109

Technical Services

David Wood
Technical Operations Manager
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7324 0900
Jon Glazier
Head Technician
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0425
Jonny Winter
Senior Technician
Direct line: +44 (0) 203 9624 341
Gemma Geraghty
Senior Technician
Direct line: +44 (0) 203 9624 340
Rob Phillips
Senior Technician
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0492
Ross Taylor
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0492


Direct line: +44 (0)20 7336 8109