‘I think of my work as a compilation of short and complicated stories about personal and communal life experiences. Although at first glance my paintings speak about many aspects of Black womanhood, they are an invitation into a deeper understanding of self - and that experience does not solely engage women-identifying persons. I started making art to escape the routine of architecture academia. What I first believed was casual doodling and graffiti-style drawing to pass time during lectures, or in-between studio assignments, was in fact meditative moments in which I was searching for comfort within myself. The Black female body was fascinating to me because there was so much I did not understand about it then, and that I am still yet to understand today. During these meditative episodes, I realized that I was feeling a lot of conflicting emotions at the sight of the naked bodies I was drawing. Ultimately, these episodes led me to understand that I was feeling a lot of shame around my own nakedness. That discovery is the foundation of my practice today, as I attempt to generate the same flock of emotions within anyone who interacts with my work. The stories I tell are not often obvious to me because as an autodidact, I approach each new painting as a learning and teaching session for myself. On one hand, each piece of work becomes a way to practice my technique, to refine my language and to fulfill my vocabulary. On the other hand, the process of making each piece is like digging a hole to find a hidden treasure. I think of my practice as research-based storytelling in which the subject is sometimes me, sometimes others, most times conceptual ideas of people. Ultimately, the stories that I tell are tales of humanity as whole, narrated using the Black female body as the language.’
Naïla Opiangah (b. 1994, Libreville, Gabon) is an artist and writer working between New York City and Accra. In 2013, she moved to the US from Gabon to study architecture and design. She attended Chicago’s Harold Washington College and the Illinois Institute of Technology from which she graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture. While undergoing her architecture training, she started developing a strong interest in the drawing and painting of nude Black women. Her work today explores concepts of identity, self-assessment and interpersonal relationships, through a more abstract depictions of nude Black women. Her paintings are primarily oil on diverse fabrics and watercolor on paper.