The sculptor Samson Ogiamien between African tradition and European reality

05.05.-02.06.2016 10:00-17:00

Opening: 04.05.2016, 7 pm
Curated by: Günther Holler-Schuster
Price: Free entrance

Location: Space05

Series: Open House


The work of artist Samson Ogiamien, born in Benin City (Nigeria) in 1970 and now resident in Graz, is as much shaped by the culture of his African homeland as by the European tradition of Modernism. Since his student days, which he spent both in Nigeria and in Austria, Ogiamien has principally been devoted to sculpture, although his concept of work is expanded by installation- and process-based works.


Themes are mostly related to the post-colonial situation in general, as well as his own position in particular: he sees his art as an educational element within the context of globalisation. The parallels between African traditions and forms of western contemporary art are emphasised not least of all by the methods he uses and materials he employs. Such procedures as metal casting, for example, can be found here and there, arising, however, from various spiritual and cultural roots, which the artist connects to something new.


In the Kingdom of Benin, for instance, there is the tradition of dedicating a metal bust to the departed so as to preserve their memory. Samson Ogiamien links this practice in his project to the wish that African migrants who die in Austria should also receive such a bust. For this, he modelled the heads of Africans who have passed away in Graz in recent years, taking them to Benin City and having them cast there. Metal casting is a royal handicraft in Benin City with a spiritual dimension. Ogiamien’s family belongs to this higher stratum of society.


Samson Ogiamien’s art can be seen as a symbiosis of cultures that are seemingly highly different. In this it becomes apparent that art was never able to develop anywhere without mutual influences and exchanges at work.

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Yaruya. The sculptor Samson Ogiamien between African tradition and European reality