Preview: Saturday 4 December (1-4pm)
Exhibition: 5 December – 15 January 2022
I didn’t give myself a chance to fall in love with myself because I didn’t think she was deserving of it.
– Deborah Segun
It is often said that our personal reference to self-love is both met and restrained by those things we love the least about ourselves. Nigerian artist Deborah Segun questions this in How to Fall in Love, her debut solo exhibition with the gallery; and her first outing in the UK. Here, the Lagos-based young painter questions how we begin to accept that which we have never fully loved?
Love is meant to be an innate feeling – it comes easily when we look at others, the natural world, those things extrinsic to us. But these external factors and influences also shape us, mold, and meld us into the multifaceted and complex persons we are today. None of us are one-dimensional, we struggle to fully explicate our relationships to others, to ourselves.
In this regard, Segun’s newest ‘body’ of work deals with that exactly: The Body. Just as art imitates life, she is at the crossroads of establishing a recognizable artistic style, (including representation by both Beers London and Athens renowned The Breeder gallery,) at the same time she is “redefining [her] own beauty.”
Life, art, self, each is a process, a journey, and just as her art evolves, so too does she find herself in transformative states as an individual – both outwardly but also, less evidenced, inwardly. In that respect, the works seem to house a subtle series of languid forms, peeking from behind shapes, gestures delicately or boldly revealing their truths. There is secrecy here, too; the suggestions of a young woman growing into herself at the same time a nascent (and international) artistic career reveals itself.
She speaks of herself in the third person: “she slowly separates from her past self but knows that little bits of her will always be present, but there is an understanding that I will be kinder to her when she visits.”
One requires knowledge to be able to fully love something; and as viewers, the beauty of these works is the subtle, unfurling moments of joy and revelation the artist has allowed to share with us.
“I don’t just want to exist, I want to be present and in tune with myself. She has been kind enough to give me life and I must reciprocate this kindness.”
Dear viewers, such allowance is something we can all remind ourselves, and remember, once in a while, how to fall in love.