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After several group exhibitions with other great names in contemporary African art, the fruit of the friendship between agnès b. and gallery owner André Magnin, Galerie du Jour presents Sculptures for a day , the first solo exhibition by Nigerian photographer J.D ‘Okhai Ojeikere , bringing together his Hairstyles and Headdress series. 

Born in 1930 in a rural community in western Nigeria, Ojeikere acquired his first camera, a Brownie Dwithout a flash, in 1950. In a region where photography was still almost unknown, J.D’Okhai Ojeikere began his career during the transitional period when Nigeria gained its independence from GreatBritain. His photographic work is thus marked by the social and cultural changes brought about by liberation. 

Sensitive to all forms of art, but particularly those that were integrated into everyday life, Ojeikere began his Hairstyles series in 1968. This emblematic collection is rooted in the massive arrival of wigs in Nigeria in the 1950s. Initially ethnographic, then purely artistic, Ojeikere immortalised the ephemeral art of hairstyling worn by Nigerian women.

These hair traditions, which in the end were only briefly threatened, go beyond mere fashion; they reflect the country’s many creative facets and social structures.

You can easily identify a woman by her hairstyle: a woman who has become an adult; a woman preparing for marriage or going through a circumcision ceremony. As for the royal families, they have exclusive rights to the shape of their hairstyle, which is passed down from generation to generation and cannot be imitated 

J.D ‘Okhai Ojeikere

The Hairstyles series, for example, brings together almost 1,000 prints of traditional Nigerian hairstyles collected across the country, and bears witness to the richness and artistic diversity of Nigeria.

His lesser-known Headdress series, which he began in the early 2000s, explores the country’s different women’s headdresses, highlighting the artistic skill and aesthetics of hand-arranging the fabrics.

Both series are the result of a collective effort, the headdresses and coiffures being made by one person, worn by another and captured by the artist in a tripartite search for beauty. The photographer’s sculptural compositions, often focusing on photographs of the back, reveal the geometry, shapes and abstract power of the hairstyles.

Through his photographs, J.D ‘Okhai Ojeikere transcends mere fashion to elevate hairstyles to the level of art, celebrating their complex patterns and sculptural dimensions. These Sculptures for a Day are immortalised by the photographer’s lens, offering a discreet and coherent visual language, a veritable hymn to the ephemeral beauty of Nigerian hairstyles. 

La Fab.

Place Jean-Michel Basquiat, 75013 Paris