Featured Artist: Emmanuel Osahor

Public/Private

Emmanuel Osahor is a Nigerian artist currently based in Ontario. His practice is invested in explorations of painting, photography and installation, and his recent work explores the garden as a constructed sanctuary space.

Currently completing his MFA at the University of Guelph, Emmanuel Osahor graduated with a BFA in Art and Design from the University of Alberta in 2015. His work has been a subject of multiple solo and group exhibitions at venues including The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, The Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto, The Art Gallery of Alberta, SNAP gallery, The Art Gallery of Guelph, and The Works International Festival of Art and Design. In 2014, Emmanuel Osahor was the provincial winner for the BMO 1st art Competition, representing the province of Alberta, and in 2018 he was honourable mention at the 20th RBC Painting competition.

Emmanuel Osahor, Study for For a Moment

Emmanuel Osahor, Study for For a Moment, Etching on archival paper, 14” x 18″, 2021.

Artist Statement

Emmanuel Osahor, detail from Study for Centrepiece

Emmanuel Osahor, detail from Study for Centrepiece, Etching on archival paper, 14” x 18″, 2021.

My practice explores an engagement with beauty as a necessity for survival, and a pre-cursor to thriving in the midst of today’s marginalization and inequity. My works depict garden spaces as constructed sanctuaries within which manifestations of both beauty and care are present. This work builds on Elaine Scarry’s writing on beauty, and an engagement with the beautiful as necessary components in the cultivation of societal care and attention towards issues of injustice.

These images are developed from photographic snapshots of private garden spaces which are then reconfigured through processes of collage and drawing. They are created through a simplification of the compositional elements in the photograph and a reliance on abstract mark making interlaced with gestural drawing.

Although these images stem from private gardens that are in most cases exclusive, my images function as recreated and imaged sanctuary spaces that are inviting for bodies of culture like myself and the plethora of others that exist today. By prioritizing an engagement with the beautiful, my works offer a space where one can tend to the complexities of marginalization and inequity inherent in contemporary existence.


Banner images: Emmanuel Osahor, Trellis and Vine and Over the Fence, Etching on archival paper, 10”x 8″, 2021.


Visit Emmanuel Osahor’s website.