Friday, July 11, 2014

Feature on This is Africa

This is Africa, a leading online forum for African opinion, arts and music features Charles Okereke. Read an excerpt from the interview below:

Charles Okereke – Life is about beauty

African photography is on the rise. Following decades of photographic misrepresentation by observers from outside the continent, African photographers are now showing the world what they see through their lens. This is Africa spotlights them in a series of interviews.

Paradise Utopia [2011] Ⓒ Charles Okereke
Paradise Utopia [2011] Ⓒ Charles Okereke

"Using photography as a platform Charles also wants to seek conscientious leadership amongst the youth, because that has been the bane of their existence for the new generation of Nigerians. Together with other arts, photography has luckily been fast accepted as a medium to value. “Yet more effort is needed in a thorough and proper education of the use of it as a veritable tool in appropriating and disseminating factual information which does not distort reality,” says Okereke.

Evil Signs [2011] Ⓒ Charles Okereke
Evil Signs [2011] Ⓒ Charles Okereke

Stimulating conversation
“With my photography I try to create awareness by elevating the mundane, the ordinary and the discarded from the common place to a valuable state which thereby incites a discourse. Shooting the usual with an unusual approach which defamiliarizes the known to an artistic level which in its duality instructs and at the same time enchants.” The future for Charles is now and now is the time to create this future. For this reason he started the Alexander Academy of Art, Design and Alternative Methods, training young, talented Nigerians and other Africans in arts-related subjects and design. “They are the future and guiding them encourages me to put more effort in realizing my own objectives as well.”

To read more, see Charles Okereke: Life is About Beauty

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Now Showing: 'Earth Matters' at the Fowler Museum, UCLA

The 'Earth Matters: Land as Material and Metaphor in the Arts of Africa' exhibition opened on Earth Day, April 22, 2014 at the Fowler Museum, University of California, Los Angeles.

For further information on the exhibition and the Fowler Museum, visit:

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Guest Post by Charles Okereke on Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African Arts 'Earth Matters' Blog

The Earth Matters blog of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African Arts published an article by Charles Okereke, titled 'Earth, a Dying World?'. The article uses images from the Unseen World's 'Planeterium' sub-series to illustrate and question the state of the earth and man's role in restoring and rejuvenating the earth.

Read an excerpt below:
Guest Voices: Charles Okereke
Today’s guest post comes to us from photographer Charles Okereke. Based in Nigeria, Okereke’s work, Once in a Blue World was featured in the Earth Matters exhibition. Charles was also featured earlier on our blog... Now Okereke comes to us with his own words and meditations on his powerful and personal, world-conscious photographs. Be sure to visit Okereke’s blog for more works of art and news about this renowned photographer at

Earth, a Dying World?  
Charles Okereke

The Earth was made as a dwelling place for all creatures, which also includes man.

Of all the creatures dwelling therein, Man is the destroyer when he was otherwise crowned with sovereignty. This arrogant attitude indicates an excess of self-worth, and has made man a plunderer rather than a nurturer.

Human beings are the only creatures that have set rules apart for themselves and refuse to conform to laws that guide creation’s movement and sustenance. Man is similarly the only creature that is out of tune with the eco-system and plagued with a one-sided narrow intellectual outlook.

What is sensed and termed as catastrophes globally today are but a retroactive consequence of a misalignment of the forces of nature – mankind so to speak, has dug its own grave, like dying Worlds.
 Hdramhindra Blasted-2010 copy 
Hdramhindra Blasted (2010) 

This period of recompense will be felt globally in every facet of human endeavor, not only environmentally or climatically. But it will likewise reflect in socio-political affairs, which can already be surmised in the upheavals that are perennial occurrences today.

Man has been living in an exclusively selfish mentality, devoid of the understanding of the powers which he uses daily, ignoring nature’s principles and adjusting thereby. Economic affairs are collapsing; nations are in conflict, and there is uprising everywhere.

Dis-integration-2010 copy 
Dis-integration Cameo (2010)

These are visible reverse processes, as the system has to automatically be put back into orderliness by eliminating the inferior and the destructive, be they man or animals, worlds and planets, landscapes and mountains, rivers and oceans, man against man, nations against nations, economic shifts and the rest of them – all these are manifestations of the activities of the Lords of the elements, which man sees as warfare in nature, and perceives one-sidedly as cruel in their manifestations and activities.

Collapse of Andromeda Emperial (2011)
Even in routine designs, we know there is a designer with a purpose who strives to make his designs adaptable and useful to the original intention for its creation; how much more for an automatic pulsating life form like the Earth with her inherent regulatory system. Mankind can only learn by compulsion and   experiences in the coming years to adapt naturally.

My concern comes from the simple understanding that we are all connected and a part of the ecosystem, and by my sense of duty to maintain a healthy and natural world...

To read more, visit Guest Voices: Charles Okereke 
To view more images from 'The Unseen World' Series,  click here

Monday, September 9, 2013

Now Showing: 'Canal People' Series at Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon, Portugal

Selected works from Charles Okereke's 'Canal People' Series are now showing at the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon, Portugal as part of the 9th Edition of the Bamako Photography Encounters  touring exhibition tagged 'For a Sustainable World'. 

Red Alert (2009)
Fuelled Tank (2011)
Red Peeping Mermaid (2011)
Our Reflections (2009)
Once a Blue World (2011)

Curators: Michket Krifa and Laura Serani

“For a sustainable world” is the selected theme for this year’s Bamako Encounters, a theme appropriate to a continent where many countries are far from reaching the emission levels stipulated under the Kyoto Agreement and the consequent implications in terms of environmental policies, economic decisions, defending the environment, regulating agriculture, fishing and industrial production. Dozens of photographers responded to the challenge set and bore witness to a world demanding drastic solutions.

For more information, visit  Gulbenkian Museum's website here.
Find out more about Recontres Bamako: For A Sustainable World  here

Feature - Earth Matters Around the Web: Charles Okereke

Earth Matters, the blog for the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art's "Earth Matters: Land as Material and Metaphor in the Arts of Africa"exhibition featured Charles Okereke in August 2013. Read an excerpt from the post below:

Earth Matters Around the Web: Charles Okereke

Today’s post will feature Nigerian born artist Charles Okereke,  one of the artists featured on the Earth Matter’s exhibition.  Okereke  works with different media ranging from photography, video and  sculpture. He also writes, acts and directs plays and drama pieces.

Charles Okereke
Charles Okereke

Earth Matters features works from Okereke’s Canal People Series which you can view by visiting his blog at

Once a Blue World, from the Canal People series below is currently showing in Earth Matters.
Charles Okereke  b. 1966, Nigeria Once a Blue World, from the Canal People series 2009 (2013 exhibition print) Chromira print on archival paper 44.5 x 59.7 cm (17 1/2 x 23 ½ in.) Collection of the artist
Charles Okereke
b. 1966, Nigeria
Once a Blue World, from the Canal People series
2009 (2013 exhibition print)
Chromira print on archival paper
44.5 x 59.7 cm (17 1/2 x 23 ½ in.)
Collection of the artist

 About "Earth Matters: Land as Material and Metaphor in the Arts of Africa"
With approximately 100 diverse works of art, as well as, for the first time at the Smithsonian, three works of land art in the Smithsonian’s historic Enid A. Haupt Garden, Earth Matters will be on exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art from April 22nd, 2013 through January 5th, 2014. (For more info, visit

Featuring artworks from ca. 1800 to the contemporary moment, Earth Matters explores the direct, profound, and visually mediated relationship between individuals and communities and the land upon which they live, work, and frame their days. The issues that define our era – territorial dispute, environmentalism – have at their heart the human relationship to the earth.

Visit the website of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art here.

Visit the Earth Matters blog here

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Feature: Charles Okereke's 'Merged' in The New York Times

Charles Okereke's 'Merged(2010)' from the Homecoming Series is featured as the headliner in the New York Times' review of current exhibition "Go-slow: Diaries of Personal and Collective Stagnation in Lagos" at Skoto Gallery, New York, USA (May-August 2013). 
A version of the review appeared in print on July 5, 2013, on page C23 of the New York edition with the headline: ‘Go-Slow’: ‘Diaries of Personal and Collective Stagnation in Lagos’.

Read the review below (culled from the New York Times website)

‘Go-Slow’: ‘Diaries of Personal and Collective Stagnation in Lagos’

'Merged' Charles Okereke

 Skoto Gallery
“Go-Slow” features the work of contemporary Nigerian photographers, like Charles Okereke.

529 West 20th Street, fifth floor, Chelsea
Through July 31
No one views Africa more critically than Africans. And the young curator Amber Croyle acknowledges this fact in taking Fela Kuti’s satirical 1978 song “Go-Slow,” with its propulsive but not-going-anywhere  rhythm, as the title for this show of 10 contemporary Nigerian photographers who capture life in their country, where high energy and tension meet. 

In Lagos, the largest city, traffic halts movement for hours, as suggested by Uche Okpa-Iroha’s pictures of public buses seemingly piled up, back to back. Sidewalks are crowded too, with everyday people like those in Ade Adekola’s solarized street portraits, and walls thick with the kind of advertisements against which Abraham Oghobase photographs himself. In a series called “No Hurry,” Chriss Nwobu, founder of the Nigerian photo agency Ikollo, distills urban drive and stasis in studio still lifes: a briefcase perched on a detached car tire, dozens of slippers and shoes lined up heel to toe. 

Other work touches on destructive forms of stagnation: drought resulting from global warming in Adeniyi Odeleye’s 2010 “Shifting Realities Series” and the continuing devastation of Nigeria’s oil fields in Aderemi Adegbite’s 2013 “Medicine After Death Suite.” Staged tableaus by Uche James Iroha — a founding member of the Depth of Field collective — dramatize the lingering suppressions of colonialism. Adeola Olagunju photographs herself among rusting trains and abandoned factories, relics of a revolution that hasn’t happened. 

But sometimes slow means contemplative,  as it does in Akintunde Akinleye’s shots of a clouded-over  city, and Charles Okereke’s figures under a sunset sky. As it happens, the Lagos-based Mr. Okereke, along with Mr. Okpa-Iroha and Mr. Nwobu, is a member of the forward-looking collective Invisible Borders: Trans-African Photography Project, which travels by car across Africa, gradually creating a grand continental portrait as the present turns into the future. Its ambitious undertaking, and many others like it, are another side of the Lagos picture.

Watch Preview: 'African Masters' on The Africa Channel, UK

Charles Okereke is interviewed on 'African Masters', The Africa Channel, UK.

Watch 'African Masters' preview on youtube  
Watch 'African Masters' preview below:

African Masters is a 6-part programme on the Africa Channel which visits studios in Senegal, galleries in New York, artists residences in Nigeria and auction houses in London to reveal how the African art scene is emerging as a dynamic force internationally.

To watch Charles Okereke's interview in the 'African Masters' series, watch The Africa Channel  on Sky channel 209 and Virgin channel 828 across the UK and Ireland or visit The Africa Channel.