Skin, Or Surface: Simone White writes about Njideka Akunyili Crosby in Frieze

Marble dust is one of many materials Njideka Akunyili Crosby ‘layers’ in her paintings. ‘Layers’ is a word that appears frequently in the growing body of commentary on her work; it is a word that is supposed to fix the Nigerian-born, Los Angeles-based painter in the field and history of mixed-media painting. Crosby applies photographic transfers, paint, collage, pencil drawing, marble dust and fabric, among other things, to gigantic paper surfaces enlivened with scenes from private life: gatherings at home, the after-leavings of parties. Her paintings are populated by black and brown persons outfitted in a mix of Western and Nigerian clothes, the African fabrics made specially for occasions such as the political campaign of the artist’s mother. Mostly black and brown persons – notably excepting many pictures of intimate scenes between the painter and her husband, a white American from Texas. In Crosby’s work, which was widely exhibited in 2017 (a year of big wins, including a MacArthur Fellowship), materials and subjects layer into and over one another, in rooms that blur, at critical points of contact, the distinctions between the figure and its surround.

 

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Image: Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Re-branding My Love, 2011

Acrylic, charcoal, collage and transfers on paper, 1.7 x 1.4 m

Courtesy: the artist and Victoria Miro, London/Venice

© Njideka Akunyili Crosby

Posted April 6 2018

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