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"My art is drawn from life itself and deeply anchored in a place and culture from which it was derived. It is my hope that one day, my work will be included in art historical dialogue about Africa and specifically Nigeria, beyond the confines of the wide-reaching Contemporary African Art designation."

REWA - Artists - FERRARA SHOWMAN GALLERY

Biography

R E W A  | | |  biography

[ lives & works - Lagos, Nigeria ::: b. 1987 – Onitsha, Nigeria ]

 

REWA was born and raised between Nigeria and England and received a BSc. in Physiology and Pharmacology from University College London (UCL). She previously worked as the Head of Corporate Development and Investor Relations for a Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) listed company. Prior to this, she was the Specialty Insurance Executive for Old Mutual West Africa and a Management Consultant at Accenture (UK). 

 

Never having received formal art training, she is self-taught and developed her innate talent from a very early age. Growing up, her father encouraged her creative drive, his expansive art collection from West Africa, providing further impetus for her development. Her formal training as a physiologist / pharmacologist at UCL also prepared her for what has become an exciting journey; she learned to observe in greater detail and to seek deeper meaning. 

 

She knew a few truths about what ignited a frenzy - when going for long stretches creating art with a particular song or artist playing on a continuous loop - but still sought a clear “artistic direction". She finds that her spirit is moved by what she refers to as "depicted sentience" and through the celebration of the female form and bright, vivid colours. Her preferred medium of acrylics and watercolours on cartridge paper provides the immediacy, proximity and transparency to express her most personal experiences and influences living between Lagos, London and Johannesburg, cities she considers home.

 

REWA decided to pursue art as a form of catharsis following a nadir. She created her first 14-piece body of work, The Pantheon, celebrating Nigerian deities which was very well received and led to her appointment as ReLe Gallery’s 2017 Young Contemporary in Lagos, Nigeria. In this same year, the prestigious Gallery of African Art (GAFRA) in Mayfair, London invited REWA to participate in a joint exhibition, Her Story: Sisterhood That Transcends, alongside a acclaimed Dutch photographer, Dagmar van Weeghel. Her collection, Onicha Ado N’Idu delved into the significance of naming rites and traditions within the Igbo culture in Nigeria – how the names shape the identity of the individuals they are bestowed upon. 

REWA’s work was featured at the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA) in Brooklyn, New York as part of MoCADA’s annual 2017 gala. Most recently, she participated in the Jonathan Ferrara Gallery’s No Dead Artists 22nd Annual show in New Orleans, USA. 

 

REWA’s artwork represents and glorifies women in our numerous forms; as goddesses, as travelers and most recently, as inexorable forces behind naming rites of the Igbo culture. 

 

She has finally found her truth in a voice that is unique to her, one that has induced prolonged frenzies and abundant hours of introverted happiness and zen. For REWA, art creation is synonymous with catharsis and her creations are her life's diary. 

 

Biography cont'd

"There’s an unmistakable air of confidence and self assuredness that radiates from the eyes of the muses, REWA masterfully captures on her canvases. Their gazes both invite you in like an old friend, yet still intimidate enough to keep you at bay, in the knowledge that the viewer is not entirely worthy of their presence.


Regality is the phrase best used to describe REWA’s work. Not in the gaudy sense that imposes its will, or shines so brightly one is forced to turn away. But in the quiet, subdued manner that commands respect and holds your attention effortlessly.

REWA’s bold figurative portraits are by all accounts an extension of the artist herself. A melting pot of varying influences, cultures, and experiences that  have shaped and moulded a person that is as comfortable haggling the price of lace fabric in the heart of the hustle and bustle of Onitsha market, as they are blitzing through the high end boutiques of London and Paris.

Born and raised between Nigeria and England, REWA’s hybrid upbringing greatly informs her work, and indeed perfectly depicts the sensation that is the modern ‘afropolitan’ woman. Forward thinking, progressive, uninhibited, and self-aware, yet still rooted, albeit loosely, in the expectations, duty and responsibility that tradition and ancient customs dictate.

In REWA’s case, that tradition and ancient custom is that of the Igbo people of South-East Nigeria, who are often described as Nigeria’s most industrious and enterprising, as well as their most independent of thought and practice. The ancient value system and custom of the Igbo people and their fierce independence is evidenced in the themes REWA unpacks in her portraits, seen through a contemporary lens. Essential themes such as the importance of coming of age, engagement, marriage and playing one’s part in their community and Igbo society at large are fundamental to REWA, and seamlessly blend the old with the modern; adapted, but never compromised to suit the times.


What stands REWA apart from most contemporary artists today, is that she transcends the title of artist, and is all but in name, a historian, and chronicler of the evolution of her ethnic group, nation and continent in real time. Through her work, we witness firsthand the assertion and confidence of women; their ability to code switch, and dip effortlessly between the West and the African continent whilst retaining their essence, and above all else the liberty of having options, and not being restricted by the confines of patriarchy and perpetually subject to the male gaze as art history is all too often guilty of. 

Beyond being aesthetically captivating, REWA’s work is intellectually stimulating, thought provoking and educational. Although working through the medium of acrylic paints, it is well within reason and justified to liken the importance of her practise to that of fellow compatriots and creative greats, Chinua Achebe and Chimamanda Ngozie Ndichie, whose work, like REWA’s has put an illuminating spotlight on both past and contemporary Nigerian society; its inhabitants and their worldview."

 

- Raphael Dapaah - Art writer, consultant & contributor |Dapaah Gallery |Polo Lifestyles Magazine

REWA - Artists - FERRARA SHOWMAN GALLERY

Artist Statement

Viewers largely label me under “Contemporary African Art”. I label my work as Igbo Vernacular Art. The reason for this is that I believe that I have created a truly original body of work that exists outside formal academic or Western dialogue. My art is drawn from life itself and deeply anchored in a place and culture from which it was derived. This is the Igbo culture pertaining to the Igbos of Nigeria. I think that this description is more accurate as it implies a unique iteration of customs and tradition, bound to a particular location and a particular people. 

 

Igbo Vernacular Art is not to be mistaken with Folk Art, but rather, concerns itself with an expressive aesthetic that would be more commonly associated with Contemporary of Modern Art; form, composition and narrative. Vernacular dialects are anchored to a particular land, and in much the same way, my art contains a vocabulary that is built on a strong sense of place and is situated in a location and a history. 

 

It is my hope that one day, my work will be included in art historical dialogue about Africa and specifically Nigeria, beyond the confines of the wide-reaching Contemporary African Art designation.

Curriculum Vitae

EDUCATION

2016   Gordon Institute of Business (GIBS), South Africa

           The Business of Africa module; Johannesburg, Lagos & Nairobi immersion

2016   Duke Corporate Education, Duke University

           Experiential Learning; Design Innovation & Leading Change

2009   University College London (UCL)

           B.Sc. (Combined Honors) Physiology & Pharmacology (obtained 2.1)

2006   William Morris Academy

           3 A-Levels in Biology (A); Chemistry (A); English Language & Literature (A)

           AS-Level in Psychology (A)

 

SOLO EXHIBITIONS

2023   All Roads Led Here, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, New Orleans, LA

2022   Pink Party, Band of Vices Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

2021   I’je awel’le: A Beautiful Journey, A Safe Journey, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, New Orleans, LA

2019   Nwa Agbo: Entering Adolescence, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, New Orleans, LA

 

DUO EXHIBITIONS

2022   Afropolitans, REWA + Boris Anjel, Out of Africa Gallery, Barcelona, Spain

2022   Ladies of Leisure, REWA + Megan Gabrielle Harris, DeBuck Gallery, New York, USA

2021   Emancipation + Liberation, REWA + Oluwole Omofemi, Out Of Africa Gallery, Barcelona, Spain

 

GROUP EXHIBITIONS

2022   Africa Rises in the Fall, Out of Africa Gallery, London, UK

2021   Mescaline - C11H17NO3, Band of Vices Gallery, Los Angeles, USA

2021   The Shape Of The New, CasildART & ArtCan, Virtual Exhibition

2021   Deus Ex Femina, Art Dubai + AKKA Project, Dubai, UAE

2021   The Truth About Me, ArtLeadHer, Urban Zen Gallery, New York, USA

2021   Addicted to Africa, Artsy + Out Of Africa Gallery, Barcelona, Spain

2021   In The Midst Of All That Is, Band Of Vices Gallery, Los Angeles, USA

2020   Inspiration in Isolation, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, New Orleans, USA

2020   Kwetu: A Celebration of Black Art, London.gov.uk (virtual exhibition)

2020   ReLe Gallery Young Contemporaries Alumni Exhibition, Nigerian National Museum, Lagos, Nigeria

2019   Identity Measures, Contemporary Art Centre New Orleans (CACNO), New Orleans, USA

2018   No Dead Artists | inu nwunye: Bride Price, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, New Orleans, USA

2019   Back to the Future: Still Here Tomorrow to High Five You Yesterday, Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town, South Africa

2018   Summer Art Fair, The Gallery of African Art (GAFRA), London, United Kingdom

2017   Annual Masquerade Ball - Group Exhibition & Auction, Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA), New York, U.S.A.

2017   Her Story: Sisterhood That Transcends, The Gallery of African Art (GAFRA), London, United Kingdom

2017   ReLe Young Contemporaries 2017 Exhibition, ReLe Gallery, Lagos, Nigeria

2017   Eko Art Expo, Eko Hotel, Lagos, Nigeria

 

FAIRS

2023   RMB Art Fair, Johannesburg, South Africa

2023   Art Market San Francisco, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, New Orleans, USA

2022   Scope Miami, South Beach, Miami, USA, Out of Africa Gallery, Barcelona, Spain

2022   Art Miami, South Beach, Miami, USA, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, New Orleans, USA

2022   Art Expo Chicago, DeBuck Gallery Booth, Chicago, USA

2022   Art Market San Francisco, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery Booth San Francisco, USA

2022   Art Miami, Miami, USA, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery Booth

2020   Art Miami, Miami, USA, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery Booth

2020   Art Dubai, Dubai, UAE, ReLe Gallery Booth

CV CONT'D

NOTABLE PROJECTS & FEATURES

2023   All The Single Ladies, The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), Q1

2022   Black-ish Television Series | Season 8 Finale Episode Artwork Feature, American Broadcasting Company (ABC Network)

2022   Law & Order: Organized Crime Television Series, Episode Artwork Feature Universal Television

 

OTHER PROJECTS

2021   Burnett x REWA Collaboration, Burnett New York

2019   Nike Women’s World Cup, “Don’t Change Your Dream. Change The World”, Nike

2019   Vaseline Showcase, 2019 Essence Festival, Unilever

 

AWARDS & RECOGNITION

2023   Top 100 Women Impacting Africa, The Women International (WIN) Nigeria

2022   Pigment Magazine, Best Cover Design Featuring “Somoto in Pink Jeans” by Rewa, Eddie & Ozzie Awards, USA

2022   Eko 100 Woman, Unending Commitment To A More Equal And Equitable World, Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Nigeria

2017   Woman Of The Year Awards, Nominee, Art Category, Her Network, Nigeria

 

PRESS

2023   NBC Rising Women Africa: Women Making Leadership Strides, NBC Network

2022   Breaking The Bias, Business Day Nigeria

2022   MOYA: Planetary Blackness, Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equality

2021   Pigment Magazine Cover Feature, Pigment International Magazine

2021   African Artists Playing With Fashion, Latitudes

2021   Band Of Vices Launches Immersive Group Exhibition Featuring More Than 26 Artists, Complex Magazine

2021   Dress Codes: A Celebration Of Biwoc* Artists, Collectible Dry

2021   Portraits Of Women From Two Nigerian Perspectives: REWA And Oluwole Omofemi, Wiriko Magazine

2021   Inside Donna Karan’s New Art Exhibition, A Celebration Of Identity, W Magazine

2021   Bold Figurative Portraits From The Afropolitan REWA, Polo Lifestyles Magazine

2021   IGBO VERNACULAR ARTIST REWA, Visionary Art Collective

2020   5 MINUTES WITH REWA UDOJI, ThisDay Style

2020   IGBO VERCULAR ART BY REWA, Create! Magazine

2020   Visual Artist REWA Provides A Perspective On Art And Life, Occhi Magazine

2020   REWA’s Bold & Luminous Portraits, Polo Lifestyles Magazine

2020   NIGERIAN ARTIST REWA ON HER CORRELATION BETWEEN LAGOS, LONDON AND JHB, 10and5.com

2020   WHO IS REWA?, Deshabile Magazine

2019   QUESTIONS FOR REWA, Stories Collective

2019   REWA, Coseffect Magazine

2019   CLAN: THE POWER WOMAN CAMPAIGN, CLAN

2019   Showcasing Rising African Artist | REWA, African Art Wave

2018   The Graduating Class Of Young Contemporaries, The Guardian Newspaper

2017   Stunning Visual Ode To Womanhood At The Gallery Of African Art, Obatala

2017   Her Story: Sisterhood That Transcends At Gallery Of African Art, The Glowing Colours

2017   Instagram Feature, CNN Africa

2017   Women-Inspired Art By REWA, The Spark.ng