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Elaborately constructed LEGO universes by the artist Ekow Nimako Imagine an Afro-futuristic world

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art

#afrofuturism
#Installation
#Lego
#masks
#Sculpture

April 20, 2021

Grace Ebert

Detail from “Kumbi Saleh 3020 CE” (2019). Photos by Samuel Engelking. All images © Ekow Nimako, shared with permission.

Hundreds of thousands of slim, black LEGOs structure the utopian universes of the Toronto-based artist Ekow Nimako. Ranging from life-size figurative sculptures with an eccentric touch to spacious landscapes that imitate dense metropolises, Nimako’s works of art are rooted in the visionary realm of Afrofuturismwho “explores the intersection of technology and race to visualize a powerful future for the African diaspora” through a hearty dose of hope and strength.

His running series, Building blackis an extensive collection that includes fantastic masks inspired by West African tradition and mythological characters based on folklore and proverbs. Another facet is a broad, architectural sculpture that extends over 30 square meters. The work from 2019 is entitled “Kumbi Saleh 3020 CE”, a reference to the capital of antiquity Ghana Empire This is said to have included a mosque, a central plaza, and various circuit boards.

Left: “Simis” (2019). Right: “Esun” (2020)

Going through each of these works of art is a fluid understanding of time and space that blurs the distinction between generations, places, and stories to envision a new reality. “We are all living proof of our ancestors, of all their joy, love, knowledge and pain. They live in our DNA, ”says the Ghanaian-Canadian artist. “Aesthetically, I like to take elements from bygone eras and create futuristic landscapes, especially African utopias, in order to imagine a liberated existence for all of us.”

This blurred temporality, which his sculptures and installations focus on, also corresponds to his own trajectory. “My art practice evolved when I was four years old when I kept telling myself that I want to do this forever (play with LEGO) and at times it feels like my future self is communicating with my former self, maybe astral to ensure this. A very specific fate emerged, ”he says, noting that the plastic blocks have remained an integral part of his personal and professional life since fatherhood.

“Kumbi Saleh 3020 CE” (2019)

Today, Nimako works exclusively with black LEGO, a choice that sets his practice apart from the cult brand. “My difference was that I wanted to make works of art for which the medium was secondary,” he shares. “The form and the content, the embodiment of life, always come first in my work.”

In 2017, Nimako published a guide to LEGO animals, Brick beastsand plans to continue teaching with a tutorial on building afrofuturistic worlds that will begin his side this June. He will be included in a group exhibition at On-site gallery from June 2022 and has also planned a solo exhibition for October next year Dunlop Gallery in Regina, Saskatchewan. In the meantime, discover a larger collection of his artfully designed universes Instagram. (above Hyperallergic)

Detail from “Kumbi Saleh 3020 CE” (2019)

Detail from “Kumbi Saleh 3020 CE” (2019)

“Kadeesa (Griffyx Cub)” (2020)

“Flower Girl” (2019)

Nimako is working on one piece. Photo by Janick Laurent

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#afrofuturism
#Installation
#Lego
#masks
#Sculpture

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