Nigerian artist Deborah Segun adopts a deconstructed, reductive, and almost Cubist approach to her paintings, incorporating fragmented and exaggerated shapes, faces, and forms that delineate the female figure in contemplation or repose. Segun’s work exaggerates the feminine silhouette and is perhaps as much a commentary on the representation of women in an art historical context, (and the omission of black women therein,) from the exaggerated proportions of The Venus of Willendorf or the multi-perspectival views of Picasso, who is an obvious inspiration to the young Lagos based artist. More contemporary depictions of the African female form similarly adopt a deconstructed and vibrant view where the black female form is a site for complex socio-political meaning. Segun’s work, however, is – at least for the time-being – slightly more internalized. There is an element of truth that many artists need to self-reflect before turning the lens outward. And while inspired by her personal experience, and her awareness of her mental and physical sense of self, Segun’s choice to focus on the individual becomes a reference point for a much larger schematic: transitions and phases in her life, including self-hate to self-acceptance, are undoubtedly issues that many women – African and otherwise – have experienced. There is a sense of a young artist and woman coming of age in these works – they are simultaneously vibrant but also codified, obscured, and protected. These works serve almost as a visual diary of how the young painter continues to define and redefine herself in a larger context. Segun describes her practice as a way of challenging reality and pushing herself to create alternative ways to position herself in contemporary art and society.
DEBORAH SEGUN (b. 1994, Nigeria) lives and works in Lagos, Nigeria. She obtained a degree in Fashion Design at the Polimoda Institute of Fashion Design and Marketing in Florence, Italy in 2017. Solo exhibitions include: ‘Being Free’, SMO Contemporary Art Gallery, Lagos, Nigeria (2020); ‘Play as Collective’, AWCA, ArtxLagos Art Fair, Lagos, Nigeria (2019); ‘Still Life’ Art Oja, Lagos, Nigeria (2019); ‘I Feel Like I Am’, Relate Africa, Lagos, Nigeria, (2019). Group exhibitions include: ‘Eparapo, The Working Girls Forum’, A Whitespace Creative Agency, Lagos, Nigeria (2019); ‘Affordable Art Fair’, Arthouse Contemporary, Lagos, Nigeria (2019); ‘Art Oja Portfolio II’, Miliki, Lagos, Nigeria (2018); ‘Family & Friends’, Wafflesncream, Lagos, Nigeria (2018); ‘Polimoda Performance Art & Fashion Show’, Florence Italy (2017). Art Fairs include: Frieze New York, NY (2021); Armory New York, NY (2021); Frieze Los Angeles, LA (2021); 1-54 Contemporary African Fair, London, (2021), and FIAC Paris (2021). Deborah’s debut London solo exhibition with BEERS, entitled, ‘How to Fall in Love’ opens on 4 December 2021.