Ade Adekola Biography: Nigerian Conceptual Artist, Painter, and Writer

Ade Adekola is a modern Nigerian artist. His photographs raise issues regarding evolving culture, migration, and globalization. He spent his childhood experimenting with cameras and electronics. In the early 1990s, he earned a degree in architecture, specializing in the design of responsive building systems. In the 1990s, international acclaim for his responsive designs led to exhibitions of his artistic works. Ade went on to study management, eventually becoming a management consultant with a focus on transformation and innovation.

Early Life & Education

Ade Adekola was born on the 3rd of March, 1966. He explored photography gadgets during his early life. He graduated with a degree in architecture and focused on creating responsive building systems in the early 1990s. Exhibitions of his artistic creations resulted from the widespread praise his responsive designs received in the 1990s. Ade continued his management studies, which led to a career as a management consultant with a focus on innovation and transformation.


He spent some time in Silicon Valley, where he witnessed the digital revolution in photography. Ade began researching the revolutionary potential offered by developments in photography at this moment. His interest was ignited, and he began experimenting. Many of his works from this period foreshadowed trends in post-internet photography and glitch art. When he returned to Nigeria in 2005, his artistic focus shifted; he began to produce photographs that redefined and reframed Nigeria’s cultural narrative.

His interest in cultural transition, preservation, perception, color, movement, and invention for Africa inspires his artwork. He creates art that reflects or is inspired by the problems that society is facing. Ade sees art as a way to influence his audience’s thoughts and perceptions. His photos are topical in elevating African contemporary photography in a society gaping for change.

Ade’s optical works explore unique image-creation techniques. His computer is his studio, and it serves as his major creative tool. He typically emphasizes vivid and powerful colors. Color takes on material quality and aids in the portrayal of context in his multichannel and layered photos. It provides the context for the observer to anchor their experience. Ade employs color as a visual cue that, through balance, congruency, and harmony, invites the viewer into the strange world.

Ade is best described as an experimental photographer. Experimental photography provides experimental representational styles that depart from typical interpretations. It causes photography to become a more adaptable medium.

In recent years, he has refocused his career to present contemporary images of traditional and urban Nigerian culture. Innovative interpretations of traditional fabrics, gleaming gemstone photo mosaics from ethnographic photographs, large photomontages of city people, recognizable blurry images of festivals, and optical kinetic sculptures from urban photograms are examples of his work.

His series each have their own visual style. He utilises technology that allow him to change and improve existing color palettes by modulating contrast, iridescence, gradients, and shadow. As a result, he is able to offer alternate, ambient visual options. Ade’s “Transformations” are wonderful works of art that require careful consideration. When strung in groups, they create a variety of unique and eye-catching combinations. They are both powerful visual expressions and statements that support modern photography’s thriving connoisseurship.


Books & Publications

  • 2019: Culture File on African Art Week: Interview with Ade Adekola
  • 2019: Culture File on African Art Week: Interview with Ade Adekola
  • 2018: Punch – GalleryB57 Debuts with Ghosts of Bar Beach
  • 2018: Mache Digital – Ghost of Bar Beach
  • 2018: Loeil de Photographie – Ghosts of Bar Beach
  • 2018: Aint–Bad Magazine: Issue No.13
  • 2017: Vanguard: Nigerian arts make historical appearance in Venice ON APRIL 3, 2017
  • 2017: Premium Times – 56 editions after, Nigeria debuts at Venice Biennale
  • 2017: Omenka: “Stripes, Weaves and Colours”
  • 2017: Omenka: “Leading Photographers based in Nigeria”
  • 2017: Fifth Chukker: “A blockbuster show revs up the Lagos art scene”
  • 2017: CNN: Nigerian Artist at the Venice Biennale
  • 2016: Hunger TV. “Five Nigerian Photographers you have to know”
  • 2016: CNN: “Artist bend the rules of contemporary African Art”
  • 2016: CNN: “2016’s Most visually inspiring moments”
  • 2016: Ciel Variable: Lagos, Nigeria: Capital of Photography
  • 2015: Snapped; The digital Issue. “Ethnoscapes; Icons as transplants”
  • 2015: Foundation for Contemporary and Modern Visual Arts (FCMVA) “Nigerian art market report”
  • 2015: Courrier International “Le Nigeria raconte par ses ecrivains”
  • 2015: Art Dubai 2013: Review
  • 2015: 360 International
  • 2014: ZAM; “Photography, belief and truth merge at Lagos Photo.”
  • 2014: Vanguard; “Contemporary artists move beyond photojournalistic gaze”
  • 2014: The Nation: “A festival of talents, photos”
  • 2014: The Independent “This is my Africa: How continent’s young photographers have reclaimed lens from the west”
  • 2014: The Guardian; “Lagos Photo festival 2014 – in Pictures”
  • 2014: The Guardian; Life Magazine: “Pret a Installer, on the Island”
  • 2014: The Guardian: “Pret a Installer… Adekola strengthens repetitive technique, exclusivity”
  • 2014: The Guardian: “Nigerian artists, new galleries head for global art market”
  • 2014: Quo: “14 Photos against Afro-Pessimism”
  • 2014: Punch; “Ado Bayero ‘returns’ at Lagos Photo Festival
  • 2014: New York Times: “African Festival of Ideas and Photos in Africa”
  • 2014: Lagos Photo 2014 – Staging Reality, Documenting Fiction
  • 2014: Kuwait Times: Turning negatives into positives
  • 2014: Genevieve Mag: “Ruinart Presents Ade Adekola’s “Pret-A-Installer”
  • 2014: Daily Mail UK; “Lagos photo festival: Turning negatives into positives”
  • 2014: Business Day “A look at Adekola’s Pret a Installer”
  • 2014: 16th Triennial Symposium on African Art: “Perceiving the Foreign: Images of African Diasporic Identities by Thandile Zwelibanzi and Ade Adekola” by Jessica Williams
  • 2013: Vision “A special report: Africa Rising”
  • 2013: Ventures “Africa’s Art Market On The Rise”
  • 2013: The Guardian “Tenth auction: Enwonwu, Anatsui go head-to-head”
  • 2013: The Guardian “Dubai in love with West African art”
  • 2013: Nigerian Tribune “Lagos for Art Dubai 2013”
  • 2013: New York Times “Go-Slow: Diaries of personal and collective stagnation in Lagos”
  • 2013: GulfNews “Art Dubai, A diverse Affair”
  • 2013: Courrier International “Une Place au Soleil”
  • 2013: Canvas “Art Dubai Edition”
  • 2013: Art Radar Asia “Art Dubai 2013 explores West African “Cities in Transition”
  • 2013: Arise “The Curator Interview: Bisi Silva”
  • 2012: “Icons of a metropolis” – Leidenschaft
  • 2012: “Ethnoscapes; Icons as Transplants” – Leidenschaft
  • 2012: This is Africa: “Exploring globalisation and African identity”
  • 2012: Think Africa Press: “An Interview with Ade Adekola”
  • 2012: Compass Newspaper “Here comes Adekola’s Lagos’ Icons”
  • 2012: Architectural Design “African Water Cities”
  • 2009: “Repetition and Inflection II”
  • 2009: “Fly by Lagos “- Leidenschaft
  • 1997: “Pledge Allegiance to a flag” – London Print Trust
  • 1997: Time Out” Ade Adekola / Yinka Shonebare / Mark Walliger “
  • 1997: The Times “Around the galleries”
  • 1997: Creative Review “January”
  • 1997: Blueprint Magazine “Flag Day”
  • 1997: Art Monthly”Flagging issues “
  • 1997: Art Monthly”Ade Adekola / Yinka Shonebare / Mark Walliger “
  • 1995: Textile Forum “Third Generation Membrane Structures”
  • 1994: “An Evolutionary Architecture” – Architectural Association
  • 1994: “2010 Textiles and New Technology” – London
  • 1992: New Scientist “Touchy – Feely Structure”

Awards & Nominations

  • 1995: Flachglas AG
  • 1994: Du Pont de Nemours International
  • 1992: Warren Electric Ltd
  • 1990: Sheppard Robson Architects

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