Naitiemu Nyanjom’s “Me, Myself and I” is an exhibition which, according to the artist’s statement, “intimately explores the self- the mind, the body, the heart and the soul.”
The body of mixed media artworks integrate painting, the written word, photography and image transfers among others. The intricate detail that Ms Nyanjom infuses in every piece of her work means that every viewing of it exposes new dimensions. It also reflects the introspective nature of the work.
The most compelling pieces in the collection are the pair that refer to her relationship with her father who died when she was young and whose death she had not allowed herself to process.
In “A Shadow of His Silhouette- An Abyss of Nostalgia”, Ms Nyanjom paints a silhouetted image of her father whose physical image she needed the help of a few photos to reproduce. She also asked her friends who had also lost loved ones to write letters then transferred patches of those letters onto the paintings.
Together with the silhouette, a wire mesh over the artwork represents the distance she feels from her father and his memory even though they were so close.
“All this vulnerability and emotional loss started coming back to me because of his death and because I lost someone I love and I blocked it for long,” she says
“I started allowing myself to think about it. It is very personal and it is a risk I have taken but I think sometimes when you talk to people, you let them know what you are feeling and you heal,” she adds.
Another gripping pair of Ms Nyanjom’s mixed media pieces is “Self Portrait” where she juxtaposes what she feels inside compared to what she presents to the world.
In the first one, titled “Look me in the eye”, there are recurring images of Nyanjom over which phrases such as “I want to be free” and “I lost track of time being someone else” repeat throughout the piece.
In the other, appropriately titled “This is a Mugshot”, the artist superimposes instead phrases that people use on social media including “I am always winning”, “I have never been sad” and “Everybody loves me.”
A section of the collection that seems less introspective than the rest, perhaps because it zooms out, examines womanhood. Centred is a silhouette of a woman with a crown of thorns over her head as well as image transfers of newspaper headlines which read “World Fails to Educate Girls” and “The Risk of Speaking Out.”
Its sister piece, on the other hand, has a woman with an actual crown. The words on this one read “Women Speak” and “Power” It is impressive that although the pieces in Me, Myself and I are an examination of the self, Ms Nyanjom has through the letters from friends, the newspaper headlines and the questioning brought her audience and the world into this intimate space. In fact, when talking about the piece she calls “Dear Diary”, she asks “Can someone else relate?”
This is the kind of thought-provoking exhibition that is worth your time because it is evident the artist herself has put in a lot of work and care into creating it.