Prince Jacon Osinachi Igwe, known as Osinachi, is a Nigerian born artist who explores cultural, sexual and racial identity through his digital artworks created on Microsoft Word.

Rebecca Bury  |  Ed Francesca Gransden  |  26 June 2020

@ Osinachi, Mmiri Mara Ugo (2019). Courtesy of the artist and Kate Vass Gallery.

By employing Microsoft Word as an artistic medium, Osinachi transforms the simplest and most commonplace of digital software into a tool for creating bold digital works that investigate complex ideas surrounding gender, sexuality and identity that struggle to exist within an unempathetic society.

©  Osinachi, Staff of Disobedience (2020). Courtesy of the artist and Kate Vass Gallery.

Osinachi’s ethnicity and home, Nigeria, is known for having some of the harshest laws against LGBTQ+ rights today, with gay men facing up to fourteen years in prison for any displays of affection. As a proud LGBTQ+ and BAME individual, Osinachi uses his art to explore and celebrate the alternative gendered, sexual and racial identities that reflect his own identity, and continue to be stifled in certain parts of the world.

© Osinachi, Nduka’s Wedding Day. Courtesy of the artist and Kate Vass Gallery.

The work ‘Nduka’s Wedding Day’ depicts a dark male figure wearing a lacy white wedding dress, accessorised with a bejewelled tiara and matching earrings. Set against a comforting sky-blue background the character is carrying a yellow and pink bouquet. The use of a traditional wedding dress reveals the normalisation of weddings in the White cisgender West, whilst the use of a black male bride displaces the ‘conventional’ white wedding image. As a Nigerian who is a member of the LGBTQ+ community, this deceptively simple work from Osinachi is particularly powerful.

© Osinachi, You Dreamer (2020) . Courtesy of the artist and Kate Vass Gallery.

Nigeria has historically condemned the LGBTQ+ community.  A policy such as he ‘Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act’ which came into effect back in 2014 has been described by  Amnesty International as ‘the largest restriction of basic rights in the country since the end of the military dictatorship in 1999’. As well as encouraging the homophobia towards Nigeria’s LGBTQ+ community that results in the continuous ostracization of sexual minorities, the act was also a catalyst for the violent and targeted prosecution of suspected gay or lesbian civilians. In the North of Nigeria, which adopted Sharia law, it’s legal to stone a non-heterosexual person to death as a form of punishment. Elsewhere, any suspicion or display of same-sex relationships can lead to arrests, detainment or jail time of up to ten years.

© Osinachi, Eth Basquiat. Courtesy of the artist and Kate Vass Gallery.

By creating an image as minimalistic and effortless as this, Osinachi shows a work which, on the surface, evokes comfort and radiates happiness and beauty. However, the context in which he works and lives reveals a brutal and unforgiving reality, where something thought to be as commonplace as a wedding is sure to end in violent punishment. The personal nature of the piece, not only to the artist, but to any viewer who has or is aware of the continuous struggle the LGBTQ+ community faces, instils a sense of power and a declaration of resistance against the cruel situation in Nigeria, and many other places.  The inescapable conditions engulfing ‘Nduka’s Wedding Day’ transform the work into a symbol of hope. One that’s very existence is hazardous, but, one that dreams defiantly for better days to come.

© Osinachi, BECOMING SOCHUKWUMA (2019). Courtesy of the artist and Kate Vass Gallery.

Moreover, Osinachi’s subjects include minority characters. Black single mothers and Black men performing ballet challenge damaging societal expectations whilst celebrating individuals who defy them, even at the expense of being condemned by those around them. The simplicity of Osinachi’s pieces – two-dimensional collages of vibrant colour and striking African patterns –  make his characters relatable and accessible to all viewers. The inherent modesty that comes with using the limited artistic capabilities of Word only aids this effect, the pure medium and design allow the eye to absorb the composition while at the same time translating Osinachi’s explorations with ease. This minimalism allows for the more sincere and complex themes in his work to gradually reveal themselves.

About the Artist

© Osinachi Courtesy of the artist and Kate Vass Gallery.

Osinachi (born Prince Jacon Osinachi Igwe, 24 October 1991) is a self-taught digital artist whose works explore cultural, sexual and racial identity.

Osinachi, who grew up in Aba, Nigeria, produces drawings using Microsoft Word, where he uses the basic limited design palette of the word processing software to create narrative illustrations.

© Osinachi, Come Forward. Courtesy of the artist and Kate Vass Gallery.

Key Achievements

Africa’s foremost cryptoartist, Osinachi‘s works are further registered in the blockchain and sold as non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

In 2018, he became the first-ever Nigerian artist to showcase artworks at the Ethereal Summit, a conference in New York that seeks to bridge the gap between technology and art through blockchain.

Past Shows and Fair Booths

Solo Show

2020 Osinachi — Existence as Protest, Kate Vass Gallery, Zurich

Group shows

2020 ETH Denver 2020, Denver

2019 Daydreaming, Lagos

2019 iDesign Art V Affordable Art Sale, Lagos

2018 Ethereal Summit Conference, New York,

Website

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