Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Predecessors’, acrylic, transfers, colored pencil and charcoal on paper, Two panels: Each 7 ft.x 7ft, 2013.

Predecessors’ is a mixed-media diptych created by the contemporary artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby. Each panel has a similar square format.[…]

Not only popular and artistic representations are mixed but also her personal life is depicted. The young girl from the artwork “The Beautyful Ones” Series #1c(2014), probably a self-portrait, is primarily used here as a black and white framed photograph. In Crosby’s practice, the printed images are transferred and then re-used for her next creation. They evolve throughout the artworks, having more or less voice. Another part of Crosby’s life is the representation of her husband. He is figured on both panels, to a portrait image of the couple. Those two interiors become spaces of cultural and personal memory records. The diptych also covers contemporary notions and questions of identities. The cultural identities are expressed throughout the variety of imagery from Nigeria and the Western tradition of modern art composition. Cultures of the two countries, Nigeria and the United States are associated and create hybridity. This is a reflection and a major marker of these new generations of Nigerians influenced by the American culture over the British one after their independence.

The practice of her art is also relevant to the black female gaze within the Western Art history. By representing her European-American husband so many times in her body of work, the artist innovates the image of a typical white male figure in another perspective. She also uses the metaphor for her marriage to share her feeling of having opposite identities dwelling under the same roof.

Overall, these domestic interior scenes possibly embody Crosby’s identities, from her first years in Nigeria to her adult life in the United States, from the pop culture to her private life. Different worlds intertwined and communicate with each other. This diptych is the contact zone, creating the third zone.

Njideka Akunyili Crosby (1983-) is a Nigerian-American artist. She is represented by the gallery Miro in the United Kingdom and by David Zwirner Gallery in the United States. She is a recipient of many awards and more recently was a MacArthur Foundation Fellow in 2017.



Akunyili, Njideka. “Njideka Akunyili Crosby.” Predecessors (Left Panel) | Njideka Akunyili Crosby, http://www.njidekaakunyilicrosby.com/work/predecessors-left-panel.

Dambrot, Shana Nys. “What We Learned From Charles Gaines and Njideka Akunyili Crosby at the Broad Stage.” LA Weekly, 22 May 2019, www.laweekly.com/what-we-learned-from-charles-gaines-and-njidekaakunyili-crosby-at-the-broad-stage/.