Art Interview| Enigma Art Collective Founder Khenye Gager Talks Pop-up Gallery and Curating Womanish

9th November 2016 BY checkoutafrica

We recently brought you the news about the new exhibition of Enigma art collective in Abuja (Click here to check it out), a pop-up gallery that is transforming the way art is presented across Nigeria. We approached the founder and the curator of  Enigma art collective to get to know the gallery as well  find out what inspired “Woman.ish”.

Read and stay inspired ;)

The Interview:


Who is Khenye Gager?

As a Fine Artist, Textile Designer and Independent Curator at Enigma Art Collective, we have a pop-up gallery which, I manage, organise and host exhibitions and other art related events. These endeavours are passion and emotionally induced, from the everyday life and contemporary art. I studied at University of the Arts London: Chelsea College of Art and Design where I developed as an artist in my local city, London. Having moved across to Africa (Sierra Leone & Nigeria), over the past year i have evolved into local issues via NGO’s that have honed my development artistically. My concepts and practice are fuelled by all aspects of art and design from fashion to architecture.


Could you tell us about your exhibition at Cafe de Vie, Abuja, ‘WOMANISH’? What influenced the idea of this exhibition?

As stated earlier, Enigma Art is always looking to its immediate environment for inspiration. Cafe de vie has a homey and organic feel with environs which are visually and artistically stimulating. This all forms a narrative which I evoke through my paintings. Having worked with the NGO’s like Population Council and Girl Hub both locally based. I gained an awareness of the status of the female within my immediate local community and women as a whole and thus inspired me to do this Exhibition Womanish.


Probably the most burning question is: Is this exhibition in reference to feminism? If yes, why did you decide to organise this show at this particular moment in time? How do you think WOMANISH will influence the Nigerian woman?

Womanish is very personal to me as the exhibition is rooted in feminism. This year celebrates the year of the woman and was the inspiration for WOMANISH. I believe that being a feminist is being a role model , leader and inspiration to other women and girls. More so empower them enough to know that it is their right to make positive and progressive choices and make the difference in their society either it be in the home or on a larger scale. The decision for the Exhibition to be held in June was that this month was named after JUNO the greek goddess for Conception, femininity and Motherhood.


Art News recently asked 20 women “is the art world biased?” We want to direct the same question to you to know your view. Is the art world biased?

From my perspective art cannot be biased as it’s passionately lead and it is ethereal driven. These are both personal feelings which are independent to different people. Suggesting the art world is biased could also be perceived true, but that recognition of bias is tied to choice which is basically what art is about.


You are also the chief curator of Enigma art gallery, could you talk us through the process of curating WOMANISH. What is the main advantage of having a pop-up gallery?

As the heart of Enigma Art Pop-up gallery is the concept of being an enigma, a person or thing that is mysterious or difficult to understand, unique and individual. Enigma Art Collective transforms alternative spaces into creative experiences which for me as the curator is key to our events, as the viewers interact with the space as well as the artwork making every exhibition is new and different. WOMANISH was curated and supported by The United Nations Women’s Representative, an aspect of the exhibition which only helped calibrate the idea and the event.


What do you think influences buyers’ taste in African art these days?

In today’s ever evolving and thriving art market we believe in the collaboration of African and western aesthetics. The Nigerian market has morphed into a very diverse and multi-ethnic community which is what makes Enigma Art individual as primary to our products and creative verve is a modern and contemporary approach, this admix of cultures creates work which is refreshing and unique and is what we believe buyers are looking for.


What has been your most memorable moment curating this exhibition?

The most memorable moment curating this exhibition is meeting and engaging with new the Cafe de Vie Creative team and Manager and the UN Women Representative who share the same vision of art and concepts and made this exhibition such a success.


Which works could you recommend to audiences as key highlights?

There actually are no particular highlights largely because all of them are representative of the topic presented. They all have a story they communicate that’s of critical relevance to the collective story, Womanish.



What’s on the horizon for you? 

We have been contacted by various venues for exhibitions; however we are very specific about the venues we choose to support. We tend to use alternative locations that are new and relatively sparse, this ensures visibility and engages guests with new locations. So be sure that the next venue is going to be new contextually and conceptually. What’s next for me is to travel, see local/international exhibitions, build focus groups to draw the inspiration as this is critical to the relationships our work conveys.


What is your next project?

As ever it’s going to be an enlightening, provocative and most assuring, societally relevant exhibition. A visual exploration with photography is going to be fore at this next exhibition but we won’t spill all the beans just yet.



Photo credit: Arteh Odjidja and Simivijay

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