How Three Young Nigerian Artists Are Standing Up to Conservative Gender Norms

In March, the Nigerian contemporary artist Chidinma Nnoli opened her debut solo exhibition at the Rele Gallery in Lagos. The series of oil and acrylic pieces were solemn and wistful, featuring predominantly female figures surrounded by blooming flowers, Romanesque arches, and religious symbols. One painting, titled When Purple Hibiscuses Fall, featured a haloed figure gazing longingly through a window, one hand resting on her heart. In another piece, Hold Me While We Wait, two young women clinging to each other against a wall are watched by two other figures—seemingly older—through an arched window, one of them holding a pamphlet that reads, “We should all be feminists.”

February 19, 2021