One of today’s most celebrated contemporary painters, Njideka Akunyili Crosby has developed a signature style of collaged paintings with photographic transfers (sourced from magazines, advertisements, and family albums) focused on a cosmopolitan idea of Nigeria, where the artist was born and raised. Often featuring interior scenes, her works merge artistic practices to create what she calls “a new visual language that represents [her] experience—which at times feel paradoxically fractured and whole.”

Facets: Screen Wall, included in Akunyili Crosby’s solo exhibition Portals in 2016 at Victoria Miro, London, is a meditation on the mutable and open boundary between the private and the public. The painting depicts an interior decorative breezeway with a concrete lattice screen, an architectural motif and material common in many homes in warm climates. The work further accents this seemingly minimal surface with countless glimpses of small details and personal figures. Each gap in the latticework screen, for example, shows a different design, motif, or an image of a friend or family member. For Akunyili Crosby, these portals, functioning as embedded miniature visual gestures within the painting’s field, transform the scene from a quiet domestic interior to windows onto private memories. Color demarcates these various spaces, with solid, dark raspberry walls sharply contrasting with the electric red of the screen, behind which gray-blue patterned motifs and a faded pink family portrait peek through. Akunyili Crosby describes her interest in thresholds, doorways, and windows in private interior sites—as well as her use of collaged found imagery—as a fascination with how layered artistic compositions can create “openings that pull you into other worlds.”

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Promised gift of Fotene Demoulas and Tom Coté