Black Identity and Swimming Pools Explored in ‘Dreams from the Deep End’

Gallery 1957 is stored away in a vacant shopping centre, which may seem like the last place you may find yourself wandering in search of art. Named after the year Ghana gained independence, the contemporary gallery based in Accra, has a curatorial focus on West Africa, housing the region’s most significant artists. This time, the space submerged in deep blue, with paintings, drawings and installations, is the latest work by Togo-born Nigerian artist Modupeola Fadugba, who explores and addresses the significance of black identity and communal swimming pools, in ‘Dreams from the Deep End’. Through paintings, multimedia documentation, and research, relating to Fadugba’s ongoing series Synchronised Swimmers, in which she continues to explore the socio-political significance of communal swimming pools, portraying powerful black figures in water together, exploring the wider context of race and access for the black community in America.


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Modupeola Fadugba : Dreams from the Deep End | Curated by Katherine Finerty | Gallery 1957, Accra Ghana | August 25 – October 31 🌊 In her newest series, @modupeola.fadugba combines her mission of portraying powerful black bodies in water together with a greater context of visibility, access, community, and representation. During her summer at the International Studio & Curatorial program (ISCP) in NYC, she found inspiration in the Harlem Honeys and Bears – a synchronised swimming team for senior citizens who perform sensational water acrobatics and offer free swim lessons to children. Through multi-media documentation and new paintings, Fadugba will represent the trials and triumphs revealed by the testimonies of this extraordinary group and the communities they serve. The series will exhibit @gallery1957 in Accra, Ghana from August 25th to October 31st, 2018, curated by @katherinefinerty. 🏊🏾‍♂️🏊🏾‍♀️🏊🏾‍♂️🏊🏾‍♀️ #synchronisedswimming #harlemhoneysandbears #headsupkeepswimming #dreamsfromthedeepend #artistinresidence #contestedwaters #iscpopenstudios #gallery1957 #contemporaryafricanart #accra

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Fadugba spent a summer residency at the International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP) in New York City, where she sought to focus her notions of swimming through a greater context. Her work took prominent influence from the works of Jeff Wiltse’s. His publication Contested Waters: A Social History of Swimming Pools, which explores the history of public pools and their privatisation in relation to race politics and community life in America. Despite her previous work portraying swimmers figuratively, her latest paintings have moved from the ideas of abstractness to characterising her figures that shed personality and convey a story of collaboration and competition. Her time in New York led her to the Harlem Honeys and Bears, an all-black senior citizen synchronised swimming group. Founded by 12 members in 1979, they are unlike your typical swim team, ranging from ages 62-100 and are New York City’s only over 55 synchronized swimming team. It is not inconceivable to comprehend the overall impression of her time with the Honeys and Bears had on her work. Her paintings tell an assertive story, bold and rendering an interpretation of the feelings and emotions undoubtedly these swimmers feel when in the water. Fadugba familiar use of burnt paper overlaid with gold leaf, pastel hues and monochromacy, is now applied to new motifs embracing, lifeguards, melting ice cream cones and swimmers varying in age, gender and purpose.

Modupeola Fadugba, Dreams from the Deep End, Gallery 1957, Accra, 25 August – 31 October 2018, 

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