In A Word, Otherworldly: Ruby Onyinyeche Amanze ‘a story. in parts.’ at Tiwani Contemporary

After a truly sacred experience at the private view of Dominic Hawgood‘s ‘Under The Influence, I already considered my Thursday evening a success, so trudging through the rain to our next stop, Tiwani Contemporary, with my good friend and art consultant, Lauren Xandra, I only hoped the next opening we were heading towards, would be well worth the disaster that was soon to be my hair.

Ruby Onyinyeche Amanze 'a story. in parts.' at Tiwani Contemporary
Ruby Onyinyeche Amanze ‘a story. in parts.’ at Tiwani Contemporary

I have to say, Tiwani Contemporary did not disappoint. I may have arrived drenched, but I could not be more thrilled to have made it to Ruby Onyinyeche Amanzea story. in parts. As the artist’s first solo show, it was beyond exciting to be in the gallery, as it felt like we were witnessing the first step in what I believe will be a massive and fruitful career. The energy in the room was catching, and watching Amanze command the space with her immense style and humble demeanor was a real treat.

Amanze, a 2012 Fulbright fellow, was born in Nigeria, raised in the UK and now lives in Brooklyn. Her work therefore reflects her journey to understanding and connecting with these diverse identities.

Ruby Onyinyeche Amanze 'a story. in parts.' at Tiwani Contemporary
Ruby Onyinyeche Amanze ‘a story. in parts.’ at Tiwani Contemporary

The series of drawings on view is totally unique, which is always refreshing. Amanze’s technique is graceful yet bold, her figures possessing an acute nobility. Each piece is colourful (think glitter, and bold neon shades) and full of movement (flying, dancing, boxing, making love) with a masterful use of blank space to boot. The inspirations seem to be nature, connection, diversity and African culture. There is also an otherworldly element to the work, firstly due to a cosmic vibe given off by constellation-like designs that appear in many of the pieces. And secondly because most of the creatures depicted are hybrid – combinations of birds, aliens, fish, humans and jungle animals.

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Ruby Onyinyeche Amanze ‘a story. in parts.’ at Tiwani Contemporary

Included in these characters, is the artist’s own alter-ego, ‘ada the Alien,’ who came to be during Amanze’s Fulbright program trip back to her birthplace of Nigeria. Whilst on this journey, Amanze wrote and drew in order to help her through her process of self discovery. A portion of these visual works on paper, which aside from drawing, include techniques like photo-transfer, collage and flocking, make up ‘a story. in parts.‘ The series is therefore a non-linear narrative that delves into the artist’s own personal experience.

Ruby Onyinyeche Amanze 'a story. in parts.' at Tiwani Contemporary
Ruby Onyinyeche Amanze ‘a story. in parts.’ at Tiwani Contemporary
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Detail, Ruby Onyinyeche Amanze ‘a story. in parts.’ at Tiwani Contemporary

On the topic of her alter ego, Amanze explains, “ada the Alien was born out of necessity: the need to identify a neutral voice through which to tell stories that highlight the complexities of experiencing home as an alien or foreign being.”

Perhaps it is for this reason that the works, despite being supernatural, are so hypnotic. They really do tell a story that stems from the artist’s soul. And it’s definitely a story I hope to continue reading for a long time.

– India Irving

Ruby Onyinyechi Amanze ‘a story. in parts.‘ is on view at Tiwani Contemporary until 28 March, 2015; 16 Little Portland Street, London W1W 8BP; Open Tuesday – Friday 11AM-6PM, Saturday 12PM-5PM; Admission: FREE

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