Rotimi Fani-Kayode’s (1955-1989) photographs constitute a profoundly personal exploration of homoerotic desire, spirituality and displacement. In his timeless and highly saturated large-scale colour and black and white portraits, the black male body becomes the focal point of a photographic enquiry: ancestral memories and a provocative, multi-layered symbolism fuse with archetypal motifs from European and African cultures and subcultures, inspired by what Yoruba priests call ‘the technique of ecstasy’.
This is Fani-Kayode’s first major exhibition in the UK since 1995, and includes key bodies of work alongside archival prints and polaroids. A founding member and the first Chair of Autograph ABP, Fani-Kayode’s brief career of six years was cut short by his untimely death at the age of 34 in 1989.
‘On three counts I am an outsider: in matters of sexuality; in terms of geographical and cultural dislocation; and in the sense of not having become the sort of respectably married professional my parents might have hoped for.’ – Rotimi Fani-Kayode
Since 1992, after being entrusted by Fani-Kayode’s partner and collaborator, Alex Hirst, Autograph ABP has preserved and promoted Rotimi Fani-Kayode’s photographic legacy and is proud to have carried out a sustained programme of work over a number of years to ensure wider appreciation of the output of one of the leading artists of his generation.
Rotimi Fani-Kayode was born in Nigeria in 1955 to a prominent Yoruba family who left Africa as political refugees in 1966. He studied at Georgetown University and the Pratt Institute in the United States, before settling in the United Kingdom in 1983 where he lived and worked until his death. His photographs have been exhibited internationally since 1985, and are represented in the permanent collections of the V&A Museum, London; the Artur Walther Foundation, Neu-Ulm/ Burlafingen; and numerous other private and public collections internationally.