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Nigerian Visual Artist, Wanger Ayu is Using Traditional Fabric to Tell the Stories of African Women


Wanger Ayu is a visual artist and a fashion designer combining the use of the Tiv a'nger fabric with painting, printmaking, transfer and collage. (Photo: LouiSimone Guirandou Gallery)

Nigerian visual artist Wanger Ayu uses traditional fabric as the backdrop for her paintings that highlight the experiences of African women.


Her series "Interwoven Realities" is on show at the LouiSimone Guirandou gallery in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire.


The exhibition is part of the collective exhibition "Regards Contemporains" in which three West African artists, Wanger Ayu, Laetitia Ky and Marius Dansou, work with ordinary everyday such as iron, fabric and hair, to find new ways of representing African women in art.


Wanger Ayu's portraits highlight the links woven between members of the same community by painting on the backdrop of black-and-white a'nger cloth, traditionally made by Tiv-speaking people of Nigeria's Benue State.


"In my paintings, I use the handwoven cloth which we can find in many African villages," Ayu says.


"I'm using the fabric because it's from my village in Benue State. My grandfather used to weave Tiv a'nger cloth before the Biafran War in Nigeria.


"It's about culture, it's about background, it's about heritage," she told RFI's Ariane Poissonnier.


"Regards Contemporains" runs until 24 June at the LouiSimone Guirandou gallery in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire.


Wanger Ayu is a visual artist anda fashion designer born in 1986 in Jos, Nigeria. Her medium combines the use of the Tiv a'nger fabric with painting, printmaking, transfer and collage.

With a law degree from Exeter University and a fashion design degree from ESMOD, she launched her brand to immediate success, including two nominations for the Future Awards in fashion. Her transition to studio practice began in 2017 after a surgery left her immobilized. Art became her therapy and escape, granting her freedom. Wanger currently lives and works in Lagos, Nigeria, where she is inspired by the soul of the city and a deeply curious mind.


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