Group Head, Fine Art, U.K
Parallel Empires, Ancestral Kingdoms presents the notion that mythological energy of African ancestral nobility appears to manifest in contemporary culture; avenues such as music, fashion, sport, academia, carnival and more.
Speaking to the heart and soul of nations, these successful individuals come as one, but stand as ten thousand; expanding the mind through their respective mediums and celebrating the visible integration of cultural exchange into a globalised world.
Fragmented faces signify fragments of known history collaged with multimedia hand-drawn and painted layers to interpret their subjects' emotion and metaphysical reflection. An inverse ode to cubism highlighting a silent conversation between European masters and African sculptural aesthetics.
Rhythm and blues breathes in lines and colours; purples and blue symbolise the bruises of the past that are not visible on black skin. Illustrative leaf motifs inspired by Ankara fabric patterns and red leaves reference African griot storytelling traditions through sound.
This design pays homage to the synergy of griot storytellers, specifically African American singers; Billie Holiday's Strange Fruit, Nina Simone, and Kanye West's Blood on the Leaves.
Emmanuel Unaji was born in 1994 in London. He studied fashion design and completed a degree in Fine Art at Kingston School of Art, London in 2020. Dubbed by British GQ as the Nigerian Artist reinterpreting fashion illustration, Unaji's a polymath who's multidisciplinary practice is a wide spectrum, spanning fine and commercial artforms freely combining painting, drawing, collage and product design with adept experience in High Fashion, modelling for Brands such as Gucci, British GQ, Adidas amongst others. Emmanuel has carved out his own space, at the junction of luxury, performance and fine art, where he mechanically deconstructs select images and identities that the media offer up to us. Emmanuel is interested in engaging the viewer in a conversation, by exploring what lies beneath the surface of content that we consume. The essence of Emmanuel's art practice navigates the socioeconomic dichotomy of creativity and business, investigating the intersection of autonomy and public persona, self and celebrity.