Exploring identity and youth in Nadine Ijewere's photography


There is an undeniable creative energy brewing on the African continent. With exploration of different media within this cultural context, the past few years have seen an increase in international interest in young African artists, and they’ve risen to the occasion. Nadine Ijewere is an example of such talent. Indeed, it’s her eye for capturing unrepresented forms of beauty that saw her hailed as one of the artists to watch by the British Journal of Photography earlier this year, and more importantly, as an artist that has secured herself a promising future in the world of art. In an industry that is defined by change and novelty, this is no small achievement. Nadine was raised in London by her Nigerian mother and Jamaican father, but it was many years before she visited Nigeria. After spending some time there, it inspired in her a desire to capture what she saw in the daily life of Lagos: a vibrant, eclectic and energetic youth. In a series of photographs titled 9-ja_17 she captured this youth, exploring themes of identity, gender and sexuality. We spoke to Nadine about the photographs that recently formed a part of the prestigious Nataal/Red Hook Labs New African Photography II exhibition in New York. One piece in particular stood out: Joseph’s Floral Halo, which, in its soft colours and dreamlike quality, captures a striking young Nigerian.

Joseph's Floral Halo by Nadine Ijewere

'I wanted to break the line between masculine and feminine and allow the subject to float between the two without having to identify as either,' Nadine says. 'The dreamlike aspect is inspired by the Pre-Raphaelite and Renaissance periods. The veil is used to enhance the idea of not identifying as masculine or feminine, as the veil itself is usually used to hide or cover something, but here it's rather interesting, as it makes the portrait more intimate.' The New African Photography II exhibition showcased some of the most promising talent from the African continent, among others, Kyle Weeks, Mimi Cherono Ng'ok and Wura-Natasha Ogunji. This exhibition forms a part of the concentrating gaze settling on Africa in appreciation and celebration of what the continent is producing. Nadine is currently based in London, and she continues to work on an already superb portfolio of work.
Olasunkanmi, Bumblebee Full Length by Nadine Ijewere

Victoria Pearl by Nadine Ijewere

Tolani Green Jacket Portrait by Nadine Ijewere