Ekene Emeka-Maduka, born 1996, was raised in Kano, Nigeria, before moving to Canada as a student. She now lives and works in Winnipeg.
Ekene’s practice is an on going study of the “self”. It is an exploration of individuality and self-representation that translates her experiences to viewers who may or may not be familiar with the story being told. In her work, she aims to share a specific narrative that addresses blackness, culture, her Nigerian heritage and femininity from a personal viewpoint.
In addressing femininity in her work, she reclaims the gaze that the well-known 19th century Odalisque shies away from holding with her viewers. For her, having the subjects of her paintings hold eye contact with the viewer creates a balance of power and humanizes the subject as such, which is a reoccurring theme in her work.
This desire to represent herself and tell her own story came from a place of inquisitiveness and a longing to be a part of on-going conversations about diversity in society. Although her practice often deals with tackling topics attributed to seriousness, when addressed in the context of her paintings, these serious topics are often juxtaposed with satire, which in a sense comments on impulsive human nature to face momentous matters in easily digestible ways.