Karo Akpokiere

Karo akpokiere portrait by dagmara wojtanowicz bettina steinbruegge
Growing up in Lagos has shaped Akpokiere’s visual identity, making him sensitive to form, composition, colour, and the visual culture shaping cities.

Karo Akpokiere’s bold works combine traditional and digital drawing techniques to tell stories informed by his acute perception of social, personal, and political realities in the cities he inhabits. Akpokiere’s work which is often characterised by a close combination of text and image harnesses the power of ‘play’ to create expansive fictional and non-fictional narratives. His work has been hugely influenced by his multicultural upbringing in Lagos in the 1980s: patterns and fabrics, comic books, graphic design, cartoons, and music from Nigeria and abroad.

Karo akpokiere studio bettina steinbruegge hamburg
Akpokiere creates work across disciplines, inspired by the words and images which surround us.

Whilst at art school, Akpokiere’s parents gifted him the book 100% Cotton: T-Shirt Graphics. This was the font of inspiration that Akpokiere needed to understand that his work at the blurred border between fine art and graphic design was valid, fluid, and innate. For example, his work Nigerian Mystic Visa Temple is a contemporary tapestry, part of the project Lagos Drawings. It plays on themes of graphic design and advertising running through Lagos and offers a satirical take on migration to the global north set amid a backdrop of religious and commercial fervour. His works Always and never and Hopes and dreams refer to hierarchical lines of value in the art world and affirmations in times of uncertainty respectively. Akpokiere’s work is undoubtedly influenced by his understanding of African modernism, which in his words is about embracing the past and the present, the local and the foreign. He views his work as an exercise in progress, one that is always changing as new interests and attitudes are formed.

Text by Constance Chester and Karo Akpokiere

Portraits by Dagmara Wojtanowicz

Karo akpokiere bettina steinbruegge africa
Karo akpokiere exhibition bettina steinbruegge leipzig

The mix of t-shirt graphics, sneakers, advertising, streetwear, comic books, etc available locally and from different parts of the world gave me a feeling for form, composition, colour and made me sensitive to how messages and stories of any kind can be shared in ways that are accessible.

Karo Akpokiere

Karo akpokiere bettina steinbruegge moncler
Biography Karo Akpokiere

born in 1981, Lagos, Nigeria


Education

2017-2020
MFA Graphic Art/ Typography/ Photography, Hochschule für bildende Künste, Hamburg, Germany

2008-2009
Creative Enterprise: Core Programme, Lagos Business School, Lagos, Nigeria

2003-2006
HND Graphic Design, Yaba College of Technology, Lagos, Nigeria

2000-2001
OND General Arts, Yaba College of Technology, Lagos, Nigeria


Exhibitions (selection)


2022
17th International Triennale of Tapestry, Central Museum of Textiles, Łódź, Poland
Lost Drawings, MMCA (National Museum for Modern and Contemporary Art) Residency, Changdong, Seoul, South Korea (SOLO)

2021
The World is White No Longer: Views of a Decentered World, Museum der Moderne, Salzburg, Austria
Textures: The History and Art of Black Hair, Kent State University Museum, Ohio, USA

2019
IV Biennal of Montevideo, Uruguay
Political Affairs - Language is not innocent, Kunstverein in Hamburg, Germany

2018
África Revisitada, Zipper Galeria, Sao Paulo, Brasil
Flow of Forms/Forms of Flow: Design history between Africa and Europe, MARKK Museum, Hamburg, Germany

2017
Studio K, Griffelkunst Kunstraum Seilerstraße, Hamburg, Germany (SOLO)
Southern Panoramas, 20th Contemporary Art Festival Sesc_Videobrasil, Sao Paulo, Brasil
EX-Africa, CCBB, Belo Horizonte, Brasil

2016
Dear Europa, Whatiftheworld Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa
Representing the City, International Comic-Salon, Erlangen, Germany (SOLO)

2015
All of the World’s Futures, 56th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy
Making Africa: A Continent of Contemporary Design, Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein, Germany


Prizes/Residencies/Scholarships

2022
Nomination for the Paula Modersohn - Becker Kunstpreis, Worpswede, Germany

2021
Lichtwark-Förderpreis, City of Hamburg, Germany

2018
Artist Fellowship, MMCA (National Museum for Modern and Contemporary Art), Seoul, South Korea
Resident artist, Artica Svalbard, Longyearbyen, invited by the Queen Sonja Print Award

2017
Resident artist, Headlands Center for the Arts, San Francisco, USA

2016
Nomination for the Queen Sonja Print Award, Oslo, Norway
Resident artist, Konstepidemin, Gothenburg, Sweden, funded by IASPIS (The Swedish Arts and Grants Committee)

Works by Karo Akpokiere

  • Akpokiere karo angel of light bettina steinbruegge hamburg

    Angel of Light

    2018 / Archival fine art print on paper / 73 x 54 cm / 28.7 x 21.3 in (framed) / €1,050

  • Akpokiere karo lost drawing game machine bettina steinbruegge hamburg

    Lost Drawing Game Machine

    2020 / Ink on paper / 30.7 x 22 cm / 12.1 x 8.7 in (framed) / €1,150

  • Akpokiere karo powerlines need blue skies bettina steinbruegge hamburg

    Powerlines need Blue Skies

    2015 / Archival fine art print on paper / 52 x 38 cm / 20.5 x 15.0 in (framed) / €650

  • Akpokiere karo traffic and time bettina steinbruegge hamburg

    Traffic and Time

    2015 / Archival fine art print on paper / 43 x 30.7 cm / 16.9 x 12.1 in (framed) / €650

  • Akpokiere illustrated letter n bettina steinbruegge hamburg

    Illustrated letter N

    2011 / Archival fine art print on paper / 44 x 31.7 cm / 17.3 x 12.5 in (framed) / €650

  • Akpokiere illustrated letter i bettina steinbruegge hamburg

    Illustrated letter I

    2011 / Archival fine art print on paper / 44 x 31.7 cm / 17.3 x 12.5 in (framed) / €650

  • Akpokiere karo lagos faux sticker wall bettina steinbruegge hamburg

    Lagos Faux Sticker Collage

    2020 / Archival fine art print on paper / 30.7 x 43 cm / 12.1 x 16.9 in (framed) / €650

  • Akpokiere karo always and never bettina steinbruegge hamburg

    Always and Never

    2017 / Archival fine art print on paper / 30.7 x 43 cm / 12.1 x 16.9 in (framed) / €650

  • Akpokiere karo a chair for all seasons bettina steinbruegge hamburg

    A Chair for all Seasons

    2015 / Archival fine art print on paper / 43 x 30.7 cm / 16.9 x 12.1 in (framed) / €650

  • Akpokiere karo hopes and dreams bettina steinbruegge hamburg

    Hopes and Dreams

    2020 / Archival fine art print on paper / 86.1 x 61.4 cm / 33.9 x 24.2 in (framed) / €950

  • Akpokiere karo love note to difference bettina steinbruegge hamburg

    Love Note to Difference

    2018 / Archival fine art print on paper / 85.1 x 60.4 cm / 33.5 x 23.8 in (framed) / €950

  • Akpokiere karo the new imperialist english bettina steinbruegge hamburg

    The New Imperialist

    2020 / Digital print on photo paper / 60.4 x 85.1 cm / 23.8 x 33.5 in (framed) / €250

  • Akpokiere karo the new imperialist german bettina steinbruegge hamburg

    The New Imperialist

    2020 / Digital print on photo paper. / 60.4 x 85.1 cm / 23.8 x 33.5 in (framed) / €250

  • Akpokiere karo the grid bettina steinbruegge hamburg

    The Grid

    2022 / Ink on paper / 72 x 52 cm / 28.3 x 20.5 in (framed) / €1,650

  • Akpokiere karo lockdown bettina steinbruegge hamburg

    Lockdown

    2022 / Ink on paper / 72 x 52 cm / 28.3 x 20.5 in (framed) / €1,650

  • Akpokiere karo nigerian mystic visa temple tapestry bettina steinbruegge hamburg

    Nigerian Mystic Visa Temple

    2022 / Jacquard woven Tapestry / 260 x 169 cm / 102.4 x 66.5 in / €9,000

  • Akpokiere karo highlife generator orchestra tapestry bettina steinbruegge

    High Life Generator Orchestra

    2022 / Jacquard woven Tapestry / 260 x 169 cm / 102.4 x 66.5 in / €9,000