Tega Akpokona (b. 1991, Benin, Nigeria) creates oil paintings of fictional figures liberated from specific points in time or space. Using a hybrid of imagined observed characters, he conjures up his childhood memories and examines the human condition as forged by cultural influences.
Drawing on personal life experiences and his admiration of great artworks from art history; which he views as a continuum, Akpokona’s pieces reflect on present-day realities and issues associated with the identity and politics of the Black body. Inspired by the regality of the characters in Dutch Golden Age portraiture, Akpokona quickly became conscious of the power of imagery and his inability to identify with the characters in these paintings.
In Tega’s works, light is a central theme and becomes an enthralling storytelling technique to examine human interaction with space. He plays with the effects of dramatic chiaroscuro and rich colors, to portray his subjects as divine beings, the viewer is invited on a journey of self-reflection and interpretations, nuanced by their individual perceptions of reality. Tega lives and works in Lagos.