Fresh off the back of his collaborative works with Louis Vuitton, Nike and being appointed the Art Curator for Parisian Music Festival, Yardland – Nigerian-born, London-based artist SOLDIER is proud to announce dates for his first solo show, titled: “When The Saints Go Marching”.

A showcase of new, previously unseen pieces in an updated style, alongside a number already familiar to those with SOLDIER’s work. Before visiting, ask yourself. What would Nigerian, Igbo Pop Art look like? For SOLDIER, notes of signature camouflage only started the conversation.

As the title suggests, SOLDIER’s first solo exhibition “When The Saints Go Marching” is a showcase of his latest works, works that adopt an updated, gently matured style in addition to the artist’s signature camouflage – casting a spotlight over those who guided him by hand or through inspiration alone into the space he’s created for himself today.

For this collection, SOLDIER wants you to immerse yourself in chapters of Nigerian history. Documentation of objects and people both notorious and local, find the light in gold foil detailing against dark, though not colourless canvas. Venture beyond physical representation to consider religious application deriving from cultural order, as light is cast over the people, moments and objects that represent a drive for understanding – in a manner digestible by Western eyes.

Some paintings document members of SOLDIER’s tribe – the Igbo tribe – and reintroduce names found in the Nigerian history books alongside those closer to SOLDIER’s heart.
From Two time Olympic medallist Mary Onyali, to middle and lightweight champion boxer Dick Tiger or Hollywood actress Mercy Johnson and members of SOLDIER’s own family. His reverend. Mother. Father. Sister. Generations with one thing in common. Hustlers.

This comes as an opportunity to immortalise Igbo history void of textbooks. Everyday items specific to Igbo history documented, told and recalled by those experiencing each step first hand.

Other paintings tell tales of the Biafra War. Tales shared by his father, his uncle and one ‘crazy’ driver that would repeat the same stories over, and over and, over again as seen through his own two eyes.
This war can be used as an earmark in time for generational history, a pinpoint as images of starved Igbo children circulated the globe – hailing black Nigerian Igbo people as saints or heroes against the atrocities they faced. Fighters. Resilience. Creating a stage for iconography to thrive through reference to renaissance painting styles.

Each piece is stylised in a manner described by the artist himself as ‘Igbo Pop Art,’ SOLDIER’s artistic direction takes inspiration from the Nsukka Art Movement – a collective of Igbo artists that integrated Uli* into their works whilst exploring multiple mediums. Interpreting the movement in a way that aligns with the taste of our modern generation, alongside what Igbo art may look like if it were to be introduced as a fresh concept into today’s world.

Paintings. Drawings.. A maze of mediums. Just as you would expect from the Nsukka. Join SOLDIER at the Incubator, from 18th until 30th April, 2024. Incubator: 2 Chiltern Street, London, W1U 7PR.

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