Painting student exhibits stunning portraits at world’s oldest open contemporary art show
12 October 2021
Royal Academy Summer Exhibition features two paintings by student Ofunne Azinge
An MA Painting student is showing her work at this year’s Royal Academy Summer Exhibition – the world’s oldest contemporary art show of its kind.
Ofunne Azinge joins leading artists, household names and other new and emerging talent in this year’s show of over 1,300 works for the annual open submission celebration of contemporary art and architecture.
The Manchester School of Art student’s striking paintings, which often portray black men in an examination of black masculinity, have also been named as one of the curator Yinka Shonibare’s picks for this year’s show.
Azinge is an emerging Nigerian-British artist whose paintings are informed by her complex upbringing, and which also explores generational and cultural transitions and the socio-economic effects of Nigeria’s governance.
Her two works in this year’s show ‘Ije Ego Di Olu (To Look For Money Is Hard)’ and ‘Dis Wan Na Clone’ were painted while she was an undergraduate student at Leeds Arts University, before commencing her studies at Manchester Metropolitan University last month. Her portraits are multi-layered, often incorporating scanned images collaged into her fractured compositions. She was interviewed about her inclusion for a BBC Two documentary about this year’s exhibition by journalist Kirsty Wark.
She said: “I’m extremely excited to be a part of the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition this year. Endless amounts of emotions, research and practise have gone into creating these works and I am so glad as one of my pieces opens the show and the public gets to experience my work in person after such a long year.
“This exhibition is important to me as it is hosted by Yinka Shonibare, an artist I’ve studied most of my life. Learning that I was also chosen as one of the coordinators’ choices this year is by far the highlight of my career so far. As a young black female artist, it means a lot to be seen, especially on this scale. The theme is ‘Reclaiming Magic’ and I hope the audience senses the joy I had painting them.
“I’ve just begun my MA in painting at Manchester School of Art, already I am looking forward to how this year challenges me as a painter and based on my seminars so far, it’s going to be an amazing year.”
Royal Academy Summer Exhibition
Held every year since 1769, the Summer Exhibition is the world’s oldest open submission exhibition, which means anyone can enter their work to be considered for inclusion. It showcases work in all media, including painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking, architecture and film.
Endless amounts of emotions, research and practise have gone into creating these works and I am so glad as one of my pieces opens the show and the public gets to experience my work in person after such a long year
The works are selected and hung by Royal Academicians, one of which also coordinates the exhibition. As well as Shonibare, previous coordinators have included the likes of Grayson Perry, while artists who have exhibited in recent years include David Hockney and Tracey Emin.
Dr Ian Hartshorne, MA Painting programme leader at Manchester School of Art, Manchester Metropolitan University, said: “We are thrilled that our current MA Painting student Ofunne Azinge has been selected for this year’s summer exhibition ‘Reclaiming Magic’ at the Royal Academy, one of the world’s most respected museums. It is particularly noteworthy that Ofunne has been selected as ‘coordinators choice’ by leading artist Yinka Shonibare, who is curating this year’s incredible show.”
Professor Tim Brennan, Head of Art and Performance at Manchester School of Art, added: “Painting at Manchester has been of a very high standard historically and MA Painting at Manchester School of Art is a new course that establishes Painting as a key area for the Department of Art and Performance. It is particularly pleasing that we are able to attract the calibre of students exemplified by Ofunne’s ability.”