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Autograph has loaned six works by Rotimi Fani-Kayode from our collection to theGENDERS: Shaping and Breaking the Binary exhibition at Science Gallery London.
GENDERS presents a playful and kaleidoscopic view of genders and the relationship with science, as well as factors like class, culture, race, age and sexuality. The season aims to open conversation through personal perspectives on and beyond the female and male ‘binaries’. Fani-Kayode's photographs in the exhibition provide a reference point for how understandings of gender change across time and cultures. The six photographic works by Fani-Kayode explore masculinity, sexuality and spirituality, using iconography from Yoruban culture and Western traditions.
Rotimi Fani-Kayode was born in Lagos, Nigeria to a prominent Yoruba family before moving to England following the 1966 outbreak of civil war in Nigeria. He later studied at Georgetown University and the Pratt Institute in the USA, before settling permanently in London in 1983 where he lived and worked until his early death from a short and unexpected illness on December 21 1989.
During his tragically brief six-year career, Fani-Kayode produced a complex body of photographic work, exploring themes of race, sexuality, spirituality, and the self. His masterfully staged and crafted portraits, sometimes quietly monochromatic and at other times rich in saturated color, stand as powerful, resolutely ambiguous, visual statements. A seminal figure in contemporary art photography, the year 2019 marks the 30th anniversary of the artist’s death; at the core of Fani-Kayode’s practice is an important emphasis on the cultural politics of difference.
A prominent figure in the Black British art scene, Fani-Kayode was the founding member and first chairman of Autograph in 1988.
Images, from top: 1) Rotimi Fani-Kayode, Adebiyi [detail], 1989. Rotimi Fani-Kayode, 2) Rotimi Fani-Kayode, Grapes, 1989. 3) Rotimi Fani-Kayode, Every Moment Counts, 1989.