African futurist urges us to save 'Our Sacred World'

North London-based Nigerian artist Azubuike Ani draws influence from Afro futurism and surrealism for his images

North London-based Nigerian artist Azubuike Ani draws influence from Afro futurism and surrealism for his images of African animals and people - Credit: Courtesy of the artist

Hornsey's new art gallery is hosting self-taught Nigerian artist Azubuike Ani's debut show featuring surreal images of African animals and people.

Inspired by artists from Salvador Dali to Lucian Freud and Antonio Gaudi, the North London-based 'Afro futurist' exhibits Our Sacred World at Muswell Hill Gallery in Hornsey High Street.

Launched in 2021 by Fine Arts graduate Georgia Robinson, the gallery runs monthly shows by emerging artists from a range of disciplines.

Ani has exhibited in France, the US and Nigeria and works to raise awareness of saving Nigeria's rainforest and endangered species, donating a percentage of sales to WildAid and Arise News.

Adanta by Azybyuike Ani

Adanta by Azybyuike Ani - Credit: Courtesy of the artist

Producing art helps him escape our challenging times: "Some chose the bottle or drugs, but I chose art. It transports me into a world where I lose track of time and gives me that feel good factor and sense of accomplishment. My work is a hybrid of realism with paintings of the wild endangered species of Nigeria and the surrealist futuristic landscapes inhabited by people."

Explaining the term Afro futurism, he says: "To me it means African culture mixed with western culture which fused together makes something different and forward looking. It's a social hybrid shifting between two worlds and heritages. This duality comes out in the art that I produce."

As for the show's title, he says: "It highlights how important our natural world is and how endangered many species are. In Nigeria there are only 50 wild lions left and around 100 elephants and we have to constantly think about trying to save them. We all need to make a concentrated effort to consume less and create a healthy environment for future generations."

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A firm believer that "art flows between cultures," he says: "There’s always been a healthy exchange of ideas. Take a great artist like Picasso, you can see his early abstract works were inspired by his studies of African culture and masks. In modern Africa art students are studying Picasso and everything becomes circular and recycled, taking influences from each other. Not everyone can speak a language, but there’s an appreciation in art of something well done and well thought through, and all cultures relate to that."

Just as Dali "transports us into the inner workings of the subconscious and translates it in his own unique visual style," he hopes visitors get a window into his inner mind.

"I’m so passionate about creating art and how that evolves into a canvas. When other people connect with my artworks and get that feeling or message, I derive a lot of satisfaction."

Anubuike Ani's Our Sacred World runs at Muswell Hill Gallery in Hornsey May 12-17

Anubuike Ani's Our Sacred World runs at Muswell Hill Gallery in Hornsey May 12-17 - Credit: Courtesy of Muswell Hill Gallery

‘Our Sacred World’ is at Muswell Hill Gallery, 21 High Street, N8 from May 12-18.