Modern & Contemporary African Art

Modern & Contemporary African Art

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 3. Alara, Ajero and Orangun.

Auction Closed

March 21, 03:48 PM GMT


7,000 - 9,000 GBP

Lot Details





Alara, Ajero and Orangun

signed and dated 2023 (on the reverse);

inscribed My Nigerian Hell...Love Yourself Hate Myself... Amen... Make Sure You Always... A Nigerian Heaven/A Nigerian Hell... As Above, So Below (on stretcher)

spray paint, oil stick, ink and acrylic on wax-print cotton cloth

100 by 100cm., 39⅜ by 39⅜in.

'I am not just Nigerian. I am Yoruba. This work is an expression of my identity.' The Artist

Olaolu Akeredolu-Ale, known widely as Slawn, has cultivated a persona that encompasses various cultural media, including fine art, collectibles, music, design, and moving image. His highly coveted works and increasingly viral artistic style have earned the artist a considerable number of accolades in an impressively short span. Slawn is the youngest and first Nigerian-born artist to be invited to design the BRIT Awards, an honour previously bestowed upon the late Pritzker Prize winning architect Zaha Hadid and luminary designer Vivienne Westwood. He has collaborated with Virgil Abloh for Louis Vuitton and has received commissions from notable figures in global creative culture, including A$AP Rocky, Central Cee, and Wizkid.

Slawn inscribes the reverse of the work with the following text:

My Nigerian Hell,

Love Yourself Hate Myself,


Make Sure You Always,

A Nigerian Heaven/A Nigerian Hell,

As Above, So Below.

This evocative text encapsulates a spirit of contemplation, underscored by a sense of apathy, regarding the state of the artist’s home country and her ongoing struggle to eschew a colonial legacy. In a gesture akin to that most notably championed by Nigerian contemporary juggernauts such as Kehinde Wiley and Yinka Shonibare, the present lot is adorned by a dappled cotton wax print textile, the green cloth itself imbued with a poignant colonial legacy. Based on Indonesian batik fabrics, this body of highly decorative patterned textiles were first brought to Africa by Dutch traders, eventually adopted by Africans as a symbol of individuality and resistance against colonial rule. The most coveted of these fabrics are still produced in Holland, underscoring the contradictions of a postcolonial existence. Slawn's earliest memories of seeing this cloth are associated with his upbringing in Lagos, where as a child, Slawn would survey the fabric covered floor of his grandmother's atelier. Memories of his childhood in Lagos are coloured by consistent and almost universal encounters with this cloth. Slawn overlays this textile with three of his hallmark figures: an interpolation of icons of visual culture such as Mickey Mouse, with exaggerated and distorted facial features. The title of the work is taken from a Yoruba mythic tale of three triplets who each founded important kingdoms, commonly referred to as the Alara, Ajero and Orangun. The result of these allusions to colonialism, blackness and popular culture is a conceptually dense and cohesive work which simultaneously maintains the artist’s quintessential studied nonchalance.