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529 West 20th Street, 5FL
New York, NY 10011
212-352 8058
Skoto Gallery was established in 1992 as a space where some of the best works by African artists can be exhibited within the context of a diverse audience. Its inaugural exhibition was curated by African-American jazz luminary Ornette Coleman. As one of the first galleries specializing in contemporary African Art in New York City, it has been instrumental in the progression of this rapidly growing field.

Despite its major commitment to contemporary African Art, the gallery has also managed to expand, deepen, and diversify its involvement with contemporary issues by engaging a wide range of art and artists in its programming. The gallery sees art in ecumenical terms and often organizes exhibitions to show the interconnected relationships of a postmodern global culture after Modernism. 
Artists Represented:
Afi Nayo
Cathy Lebowitz
Donald Locke
George Afedzi Hughes
Lula Mae Blocton
Maurice Nkainfon Pefura
Olu Amoda
Osaretin Ighile
Uche Okeke

Current Exhibition

Ben Ajaero, Saheed Pratt

On the Edge: Works from the 1980s

May 13, 2023 - June 17, 2023
On the Edge: Works from the 1980s Ben Ajaero Saheed Pratt May 13 – June 17, 2023 Skoto Gallery is pleased to present On the Edge: Works from the 1980s, an exhibition of paintings and mixed media works by Nigeria-born artists Ben Ajaero and Saheed Pratt. Both artists have exhibited with the gallery several times over the years, and were included in the gallery’s inaugural exhibition that was curated by the late Ornette Coleman in 1992. The reception is on Saturday, May 13, 4-6pm. At a time when so much attention is being given to the works of African artists who live and work outside Africa by curators and exhibition organizers in the West in constructing narratives on contemporary African art practice, this exhibition highlights an intimate engagement with works by two Lagos-based artists whose works mine the microcosm of their culture for symbols that can be universally understood, it provides an alternative stance in the repositioning and rewriting of art historical discourse with insightful commentaries and observations on the social, economic and political realities of modern Africa. Ben Ajaero is a leading member of his generation whose work consistently explores the possibilities inherent in painting with remarkable elegance and lyrical beauty that speaks to the reality of Africa’s existence. A self-taught artist and an astute observer of the world around him, Ajaero strives to integrate his rich and varied cultural experience into a critical framework that engage with issues of history, identity and authenticity. He is aware of function and experiment as well as harmony and dissonance. Ajaero draws on a deep understanding of Africa’s philosophical and aesthetic concepts in his approach to making art, eschewing notions of traditional standard of beauty in favor of a more personal approach with a resourceful exploitation of unorthodox materials and textured surfaces. He dismisses the concept of perspectives in his work opting for a more direct two-dimensional presentation that creates the illusion of perspective by crudely overlapping objects within the picture space. The visual resonance in his work is undeniable, attesting to his ability to seamlessly fuse ancient and modern concepts and aesthetics in his search for creative excellence. He presently lives and works in Lagos, Nigeria. Born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria, Saheed Pratt is a master story–teller who draws from his rich Yoruba cultural heritage as well as a cosmopolitan consciousness to create work that explores themes of memory, history, migration and the passage of time through the filter of personal experience. His work expertly exploits the ambiguities arising between darkness and radiance, abstraction and figuration as well as the intriguing play between formal intention and narrative potential. His rich complex composition draws on the visual traditions of concepts or figures in Yoruba cosmology and mythology as well as modern art in a manner that is neither superficial nor eclectic, but rooted firmly in his belonging to both cultures. He is a firm believer in the notion that modern artists in the African continent must dig deep into fertile soil with implement of creativity, he is aware of the creative process as a restless engagement with fleeting properties and strives to convey to the viewer the physical and mental engagement of the artist in his work. He is a widely exhibited artist whose work is in several collections at home and abroad.

Past Exhibition

Afi Nayo, Cathy Leibowitz, David Rich, Lula Blocton, Noah Jemisin, Olu Amoda, Osi Audu, Owusu-Ankomah, Tom Otterness, Wosene Worke Kosrofemisin, Olu Amoda, Osi Audu, e Blocton, Osi Audu, Qwusu-Ankomah, Tom Otterness and Wosene Worke Kosrof


March 11, 2023 - May 6, 2023
Currents March 11 – April 22, 2023 Reception: Saturday, March 11, 3-6pm Skoto Gallery is pleased to present Currents, a group show of paintings, drawings, sculpture and mixed media by Afi Nayo, Cathy Leibowitz, David Rich, Lula Mae Blocton, Noah Jemisin, Olu Amoda, Osi Audu, Qwusu-Ankomah, Tom Otterness and Wosene Worke Kosrof. The show’s title “Currents” reflects the diverse personal cultural backgrounds and styles of the exhibiting artists working across different time periods, and alludes to the vitality and creative energy that run through their work. Their approach to making art is through a contemporary experience, each one of them represents a resonant voice that achieves its own distinction and clarity amidst changing realities in a world of ceaseless change. The works included in this show are phenomenal in their own right, embodying individual creative distinctions as well as group configurations. Besides the visual power and the politico-historical significance imbued in the works, the show is also a meditation on the flow of aesthetic influence - and the larger claims of Modernism to subsume or complete the ambitions of all other art stories. The work of Afi Nayo reflects a longstanding commitment to extracting textured patterns with mosaic-like delicacy and cosmopolitan refinement from a complex language of symbols and signs drawn from the unconscious to obtain a poetic amalgam of abstraction and reality, revealing a reality behind the visible things around us. Symbols become patterns and then symbols again as the imagery vacillates between seen and unseen, between the remembered and the disassociated, revealing minute treasures for those who linger long enough to see them revealed. The panoramic scope of Cathy Lebowitz’s drawings belies their modest scale. Intricate networks of line and color press inward and outward within each composition. In a visual construct akin to quilting and embroidery, the compositional elements appear to undulate in a consistently compressed space. Her subtly nuanced palette reinforces the allusions to land, sea, and sky. Acknowledging art historical influences from Duccio to Charles Burchfield to Shirley Jaffe, Lebowitz offers meditations on delicate ecosystems, as each work encompasses a precarious though precisely calibrated balance of form, line, and color. Arising from a particular intersection of abstraction, neighborhood interactions and lived experience, David Rich’s work reflects a decidedly impure and vernacular approach to painting. The focus is not on literal description but rather on attitude and presence, evincing a lyrical beauty and an aura of spontaneity that belies it's surprising seamlessness between the spiritual and physical worlds. His work advances creative dialogue with an abiding confidence that visual images can still communicate powerful emotional and spiritual values in addition to formal aesthetics. Lula Mae Blocton is an African American artist and painter. Color is her passion. What she has been dealing with is the quality of color, looking at it and perceiving it as transparent. Throughout her career she has tried to identify herself through the use of color relationships and structure. Her work can be seen as specific stages of developing towards these goals. Lula’s early work consisted of overlapping geometric patterns creating transparent combinations of color, much like weaving cloth to create a pattern. Noah Jemisin’s extensive travels in Africa, Europe and Asia over the years have helped him to develop an approach to life and art that enables him to synthesize into a distinct and dynamic whole the various components of his identity and create work that strive to make meaning of his personal history as well as the ambiguities and contradictions of contemporary culture. There is a great deal of critical experience, of knowledge and intuition in his work as well as an ever sensitive deftly balanced interaction between modernism’s formal concerns with a belief in the emotive potential of painting. Osi Audu has consistently maintained a persistent focus on the dynamic relationship between shape, form and color while remaining firmly rooted in the Yoruba philosophical concept that the human head encompasses a duality of spirit and matter, mind and body. The notion of the subconscious is a powerful one and can be very much seen in his work’s high originality. Owusu-Ankomah is an internationally acclaimed artist whose work draws inspiration from the visual powers of symbols including the ancient Adinkra sign system of his homeland, abstract symbols, logos and ideograms from contemporary global cultures, combined with an awareness of a vast array of both formal and inherited traditions to create work that is dense with visual complexity. Tom Otterness is renowned for his bronze sculpture which animates public spaces with humorous character that chronicle the absurd and parody man’s insecurities. His themes are both specific and general, and his ability to craft myths so strong as to turn current events and political reality into children’s fable and festive celebration. The playful and even comical quality of his sculptural narratives are infused with multi-layered allegorical commentaries on the fragile human condition that strategically merge private concerns with social agenda, a sensitivity to history with an acute political consciousness. His graceful drawings suggest multiple sources ranging from political cartoons of the French revolution, classical myth and the perilous times we live in today. Wosene Worke Kosrof continues to draw upon an individual reserve of personal and collective memories to activate a meaningful form of engagement that celebrates the richness of Ethiopia’s visual culture. He fuses a vocabulary of signs and symbols drawn from reconfigured Amarhic script with a mastery of the nuances of color and composition as well as an open-ended improvisational sensibility to create work that comes alive to convey temporal and spatial dimensions of the written word.