Obinna Makata uses fabric as a metaphor to explore cultural identity and evolving social
values in Nigeria today. His mixed-media collages combine ink, acrylic and scraps of
Ankara fabric to create narrative associations that deal with common aspects of daily
life, including visa queues, modern relationships, and crowded urban environments.
Recently, Makata’s interest has shifted to question the impact of consumerism and the
culture industry, using the ostentatious nature of the Lagos fashion scene as a case
study. In Latest Fashion (2013), a figure grasps tightly to a mysterious object made of
fabric, suggesting an aggressive connectivity to the unknown form that the subject is
forced to hide behind. In Brazilian Hair (2013), a woman’s head is overwhelmed by the
volume of artificial hair extensions formed by a dense mass of fabric. In each case,
Makata positions consumer culture as suffocating, limiting, and a threat to the autonomy
of these figures.
Makata’s appropriation of textiles examines the complex definitions of collective cultural
consciousness in Nigeria, referencing “Africanicity” as a visual metaphor. His collages
use the preconceptions of “African” art as a driving conceptual framework. Makata
describes his collages as “broken pieces of African culture,” a response to the
omnipresence of foreign influence that continues to threaten traditional value systems
and artistic processes unique to the continent. While each individual work alludes to a
specific narrative, they share a commonality in their sense of confusion of a distinctly
African identity, one that traverses cultures and speaks to a dialogue that is inherently