Lemi ‘The Artist’
Nigerian fine artist, graphic designer and illustrator, Ghariokwu Lemi (Lemi), is a renowned figure in the global contemporary African art scene and Afro-pop art movement . . a founding father of AfroPop Art. Working closely with legendary musician Fela Anikulapo-Kuti between 1974 and 1993, Lemi is also a central figure in the globally celebrated Afrobeat genre and movement.
Back in 1974 the very young Lemi was declared officially, by Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, as ‘Fela’s artist’. It was clear then, there was something magical about how Lemi was going to work and what he would go on to achieve as a self taught artist. His style is characterised by sharp witted, poignant visual metaphor. He uses abstraction cut and paste collage, satire, remix, commentary and homage. Many of his works depicting thoughtful catalysts for change, they are also at once magical and moving towards abstraction. Lemi’s album cover work has extended beyond those designed for Fela having completed a large number of album cover pieces for other well known international artists. As pointed out in Granta Magazine he has “. . designed more than 2,000 album covers in the last 39 years, including covers for Bob Marley, E. T. Mensah, Osita Osadebe and others” (Ghariokwu, 2013), leading The Observer Music Magazine to call Lemi “the King of Covers” (The Guardian 2004).
Lemi’s piece Anoda Sistem (2002) is held on permanent collection in the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA, New York) and he is profiled in the Phaidon Press publication Area 2, a series of visual essays about 100 of the most innovative emerging and influential graphic designers in the world (see Mafundikwa, Area 2, 2008).
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