Samson Bakare Gucci bamboo

Samson Bakare on challenging the Western gaze

The Nigerian artist and painter discusses why he describes his Afro-classicist artworks as ‘time machines’, and how being commissioned by Gucci marked a breakthrough moment in his career

Samson Bakare’s art is the product of a brilliant mixture of cultural influences. The Nigerian artist cites the Nok art movement, one of the earliest forms of art in the country, as a major source of inspiration. Then there is East African Coptic art, which is often found in early churches in Ethiopia, along with Pop Art, Impressionism, Dadaism, and even the comic books and manga that he obsessed over as a child.

Growing up in Lagos, Bakare began to seriously consider art as a career during high school, when he was creating his own comics. But it would take several years before his painting practice was established enough for him to support himself. “At 17 I was working in a factory as a night shift worker while I was enrolling for art training at the National Art Theatre in Lagos. It was a rigorous process to be learning, practicing and working at the same time without financial support,” he tells CR.

Samson Bakare Dorothy Circus