A Preview Into The Ancestral Histories And Unfolding Futures Of Marcellina Akpojotor

Marcellina Akpojotor, Photo credit by Rodin Eckenroth

Daughters of Esan, 2021 is an autobiographical series by Marcellina Akpojotor that consists of five pieces that show five generations of females in Akpojotor’s maternal line, beginning with her great grandmother and finishing with her daughter. Marcellina Akpojotor, born in Lagos, Nigeria, in 1989, started her career as an apprentice to her father. She later proceeded to the Lagos State Polytechnic to study Art and Industrial Design.

Rele Gallery will display Marcellina Akpojotor’s second solo exhibition, Daughters of Esan: The Alpha Generation, from October 30th to December 4th, 2021 in Los Angeles and at Art Basel in Miami. This will be her first solo exhibition in the United States. The artworks on display here are based on feelings of affection and family, and they explore ideas of ancestry and heritage. This show focuses on the artist’s daughter and presents us with scenes of intimacy and family life, building on the artist’s past explorations of her maternal ancestry spanning generations.

Akpojotor creates beautifully textured and layered art with engaging visual imagery that explores gender, personal and societal identity, and themes of women’s empowerment in today’s culture. She uses collaging and traditional painting techniques on fabric to reflect this in her work.

Dreams in Bobozi Farm III, Fabric, Paper & Acrylic on Canvas, 48 X 60 inches, 2021, Courtesy Rele Gallery
Quest for Education (Ode to Beautiful Memories),Fabric, Charcoal and Ink on paper & Acrylic on Canvas, 4 X 6 feet, 2020, Courtesy Rele Gallery
Dede I, Fabric & Acrylic on Canvas, 48 X 48 inches, 2020, Courtesy Rele Gallery

In what might be regarded as an ongoing exploration of wasted fabric, Akpojotor’s approach entails folding and attaching strips of cloth in an artistic delineation of shape. Her fascination with fabric began focusing on its utility as human clothing. Still, she soon moved on to consider the material’s politics as a cultural signifier and a conduit for memory and shared energy.

The simultaneous absence and presence of the human form in this painting is particularly remarkable—a meditation on memory and loss. The artist pays tribute to a woman whose vision paved the road for future generations of women in her family to achieve various academic degrees with this piece.

The artist asks fans to critically connect with their individual and collective histories through her investigation of family history and previous events, which is essential in understanding how we could shape the present and future realities.

“We’re beyond pleased to be showing at Art Basel for the first time and looking forward to seeing the engagement that will arise from the presentation of Marcellina’s work,” says founder Adenrele Sonariwo, “Marcellina is in a fantastic place right now, following her residence at Fountainhead, and she welcomes everyone to rejoice and be a part of her recent accomplishments.”

Blooming Red Soil, Fabric, Paper & Acrylic on canvas, 48 X 60 Inches, 2020, Courtesy Rele Gallery
Dede’s Corner,,, Fabric, Paper & Acrylic on Canvas, 48 X 60 inches, 2020, Courtesy Rele Gallery
Dreams in Bobozi Farm, Fabric, Paper & Acrylic on Canvas, 48 X 60 inches, 2020, Courtesy Rele Gallery