One morning in late March, she and I spoke via Skype for almost an hour. She was generous in her responses, open about her uncertainties, and compelling in the ways she expressed her convictions about art. I hope this conversation will lead to more between Nengi and all of us.
Emmanuel Iduma: Do you suspect that by looking at the titles of your paintings, viewers can get a sense of your intentions?
Nengi Omuku: I find that my titles and my paintings have become more intertwined and representational recently. Some of the paintings that were in the Armory Show for example —Roadside Dump and I will free you but I am a small girl—relate directly to the paintings because I felt there was no other way to properly express the encounters they came from. If I were to be put into a category, I would probably be classified as an abstract painter. However, when I am confronted with someone defecating on the roadside, or when I am prevented from posting bail because of my gender, I can’t rely on abstraction to properly convey what I experience, and what I am trying to express. There was a very ‘abstract’ painting I also showed at Armory: He wanted her to change. I think the painting and the title here are allowed to say different things. It all depends. I have a strange relationship with words and with paint.