Victor Ehikhamenor
Udomi-Uwessan, Edo State, Nigeria
EducationAmbrose Ali University, University of Maryland
Occupation(s)Visual artist, writer, photographer.

Victor Ehikhamenor is a Nigerian visual artist, writer, and photographer known for his expansive works that engage with multinational cultural heritage and postcolonial socioeconomics of contemporary black lives. In 2017, he was selected (along with two other artists) to represent Nigeria at the Venice Biennale, the first time Nigeria would be represented in the event.[1] His work has been described as representing "a symbol of resistance" to colonialism.[2]

Early life and education

Ehikhamenor was born in Udomi-Uwessan, Edo State, Nigeria, part of the ancient Benin Kingdom, known for its historical bronze-casting tradition. He was educated in Nigeria and in the United States. He returned from the United States in 2008 to work in Lagos.

His grandmother was a cloth weaver, his uncle a photographer, his maternal grandfather a blacksmith, and his mother a local artist.[3]

Art and writing

His work is strongly influenced by work done by villagers especially his grandmother.[3] He credits this traditional upbringing as the foundational tenet of his inspiration; from grandmothers weaving cloth with locally dyed thread in her min-loom to observing his mother's meticulous painting/decorating with homemade clay and charcoal pigments, to watching other villagers mark-making on ancient shrine walls and altars.[4][5][6] This has been an enduring feature of his work, which is abstract, symbolic and politically motivated; and influenced by the duality of African traditional religion and the interception of Western beliefs, memories and nostalgia.

Ehikhamenor has held numerous solo art exhibitions across the world. In 2016, he was one of 11 Nigerian artists invited to join 23 Indonesian artists in the grand exhibition at the Biennale. At the Jogja National Museum, he showed an installation titled "The Wealth of Nations".[3] Ehikhamenor was invited to Art Dubai in March 2018.[7] In July 2018, he was also one of the Nigerian artists selected to meet and exhibit work for visiting French President Emmanuel Macron.[8] The exhibition, organised by ART X Lagos took place at the Afrika Shrine, the nightclub of Femi Kuti. His work has also been shown in solo and group exhibitions at museums and galleries across the world, including Tyburn Gallery (London), Rele Gallery (Lagos, Nigeria), Jennings Gallery (Washington, DC), the 5th Meditationa Biennale (Poznan, Poland), the 12th Dak'art Biennale (Dakar, Senegal), Biennale Jogja XIII (Yogyakarta, Indonesia).

Ehikhamenor's art and photographs have been used for editorials as well as cover art on books by authors such as Chimamanda Adichie, Helon Habila, Toni Kan, Chude Jideonwo, and Chika Unigwe. They have also been illustrated on fabric and exhibited at international fashion parades.[9]

His debut poetry collection, Sordid Rituals, was published in 2002. His second book, Excuse Me! (2012), a satirical creative non-fiction view of life as an African both at home and abroad, is a recommended text in two Nigerian universities.[10]

He has published numerous fiction and critical essays with academic journals, mainstream magazines and newspapers from around the world including The New York Times, CNN Online, Washington Post, Farafina, AGNI Magazine and Wasafiri. His short story "The Supreme Command" won the Association of Commonwealth Broadcasters Award in 2003.

He was once described as "undeniably one of Africa's most innovative contemporary artists"[3] and one of "42 African Innovators to Watch".[11]

Comments on Damien Hirst piece

"Still Standing", a monument by Ehikhamenor, displayed at St. Paul's Cathedral in February 2022. It depicts the Oba of Benin standing beside a monument to Admiral Rawson, who led the Punitive Expedition to the Kingdom of Benin in 1897.

On May 8, 2017, while participating in the Venice Biennale, Ehikhamenor first called attention to what he describes as Damien Hirst's cultural appropriation of Nigerian Yoruba art.[12] The exhibition of the British artist, called Treasures From the Wreck of the Unbelievable, featured a variety of sculptures meant to be viewed as debris rescued from a shipwreck. But one of the displayed artefacts was a copy of "Ori Olokun", a famous Ife bronze art from the 14th century now described as "Golden heads".

Of the appropriation, Ehikhamenor had posted on Instagram: "For the thousands of viewers seeing this for the first time, they won't think Ife, they won't think Nigeria. Their young ones will grow up to know this work as Damien Hirst's. As time passes it will pass for a Damien Hirst regardless of his small print caption. The narrative will shift and the young Ife or Nigerian contemporary artist will someday be told by a long nose critic 'Your work reminds me of Damien Hirst's Golden Head'. We need more biographers for our forgotten."[13]

His words brought the issue to the forefront on local and international media.[14][15]

Angels and Muse

In February 2018, Ehikhamenor opened Angels and Muse, described as "a multi-modal co-working space in Lagos draped with wall murals, stained glasses, and beautiful lighting, making for a stunning visual and immersive experience."[16] The space, also used for artist residencies, is located in the Ikoyi area of Lagos state and contains a ‘multidisciplinary room,' used for "workshop, training, book reading, experimental or conceptual art exhibitions, among other usages."[17] The project was featured on the 10th episode of the Netflix series Amazing Interiors in July 2018.[18]

Book cover designs

Awards and residencies


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Solo exhibitions

Group exhibitions


  1. ^ "Meet Peju Alatise, Qudus Onikeku & Victor Ehikhamenor – Artists at Nigeria's Debut at the 57th Venice Biennale". BellaNaija. 27 March 2017. Retrieved 24 April 2017.
  2. ^ "125 Years After the Benin Bronzes Were Looted, Artist Victor Ehikhamenor Has Installed a Symbol of Resistance at St. Paul's". Artnet News. 17 February 2022. Retrieved 7 May 2022.
  3. ^ a b c d "Victor Ehikhamenor: The Innovative Maverick of Contemporary African Art", Ventures Africa, 11 May 2016.
  4. ^ "Musing with Victor Ehikhamenor" Nigerianstalk/Kola Tubosun. June 2013.
  5. ^ "The ‘Natural' Artist: Amatoritsero Ede in conversation with Victor Ehikhamenor" MTLS. September 2014.
  6. ^ "Victor Ehikhamenor: Shaped by memory and tribal tradition" Financial Times. March 27, 2015
  7. ^ a b Sowole, Tajudeen (11 March 2018). "Three Nigerian artists, 47 countries for Art Dubai 2018". The Guardian. Nigeria. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  8. ^ "ART X Lagos exhibits contemporary Nigerian art for President Macron – Vanguard News". Vanguard News. 12 July 2018. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  9. ^ "The Art of Victor Ehikhamenor, Discovered Through Fashion". Black Fabulousity. 25 February 2015.
  10. ^ "Victor Ehikhamenor". Retrieved 18 May 2020.
  11. ^ "42 African Innovators to Watch", Ventures Africa, 11 May 2016.
  12. ^ "Nigerians Express Outrage as British Artist, Damien Hirst, Copies Ife Sculpture Without Giving Credit". THISDAYLIVE. 10 May 2017. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  13. ^ Frank, Priscilla (9 May 2017). "Damien Hirst Accused Of Appropriating Nigerian Art, Whitewashing History". Huffington Post. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  14. ^ "5 Reasons It's Important That Victor Ehikhamenor is Calling Out Damien Hirst's Plagiarism". Brittle Paper. 29 May 2017. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  15. ^ "Victor Ehikhamenor's Latest Work Explores Controversy Through the Lens of Bini Spirituality". OkayAfrica. 6 February 2018. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  16. ^ "Angels and Muse | Artsy Co-working Space Opens in Lagos". Brittle Paper. 20 February 2018. Retrieved 24 July 2018.
  17. ^ "Ehikhamenor opens artist residency, Angels and Muse". Retrieved 24 July 2018.
  18. ^ "Amazing Interiors | Netflix Official Site". Retrieved 24 July 2018.
  19. ^ "Announcing Bellagio Center Residency Award Winners", Africa Center. 11 May 2016.
  20. ^ "THE FESTIVAL". Retrieved 24 July 2018.
  21. ^ "Victor Ehikhamenor at 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair London 2016". Retrieved 24 July 2018.
  22. ^ "In the Kingdom of this World". Retrieved 24 July 2018.
  23. ^ Iduma – BOMB Magazine, Emmanuel (23 January 2018). "The Work of Time: Victor Ehikhamenor's In the Kingdom of This World". Retrieved 24 July 2018.
  24. ^ "Nigerian Gallery Retro Africa Stages Seasonal Exhibition at Lehmann Maupin – News – Lehmann Maupin". Retrieved 9 May 2022.
  25. ^ Jones, Jonathan (16 September 2021). "'This has never been so much fun!': Royal Academy Summer Exhibition review". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 May 2022.
  26. ^ "The Nigerian artwork challenging British history in St Paul's". BBC News. 20 February 2022. Retrieved 7 May 2022.
  27. ^ Oduah, Henry (17 February 2022). "Victor Ehikhamenor's new work 'Still Standing' on show at London cathedral". QED.NG. Retrieved 9 May 2022.
  28. ^ ArtDependence. "ArtDependence | Victor Ehikhamenor's Installation Work 'Still Standing' at St Paul's Cathedral in London". Retrieved 9 May 2022.
  29. ^ "Biennial of Contemporary African Art, Dak'Art 2018, underway in Senegal – The Nerve Africa". The Nerve Africa. 4 May 2018. Retrieved 24 July 2018.
  30. ^ "Victor Ehikhamenor on the first Nigerian Pavilion at Venice Biennale and Damien Hirst's cultural appropriation". GRIOT. 30 May 2017. Retrieved 24 July 2018.
  31. ^ Idowu, Torera (12 May 2017). "First ever Nigerian Pavilion opens at the Venice Biennale". CNN. Retrieved 24 July 2018.
  32. ^ "ReSignifications: The Black Mediterranean". Retrieved 24 July 2018.