Referring to her upbringing as a black girl in Texas and child of two immigrant parents, Agbor’s work is reflective of an ongoing struggle to formally communicate a multi identity experience - struggling to connect with her Nigerian heritage whilst being raised in the American South. Agbor explains “this Southern part of me also battled with the knowledge of the bloody history of the South and overall; America. I wasn't given the space to be multifaceted and when those identities conflicted. It left me confused as to who I was and where I belonged in this world. My paintings are an ongoing exploration of my experience and how my existence being black relates to my environment.” Agbor explores the beauty of blackness and the beauty of her subjects by pairing them with bright colours. By painting these figures, Agbor is exploring different societal challenges that affect black people whilst reflecting on her own struggles. “My paintings are an ongoing exploration into my experience and how my existence being black relates to my environment…my paintings attempt to explore the dichotomy and the phenomena that is "blackness" - what it means to experience blackness as a woman.”
Working primarily in oil paints on canvas, Agbor’s turns to photographic source material and digital sketching to conceive her works. Agbor’s figures are captured reclining or looking outwards from environments devoid of characteristics, situated in liminal spaces on the transition of knowing and wondering. Distinctive of her practice, foreground and background converge in an active dialogue, where fragments of their main protagonists are pieced together, to mirror the complexities of the artists' identity. Agbor chooses to depict black people in a dream-like fashion and a common motif she uses within her works, are her vibrantly rendered subjects. A vibrancy of colour is also employed as a means to represent a suppressed, emotional world. These vivid backdrops are in unsettling contrast to an often restrained and pensive characterisation of subject and offer a surreality to the works overall. This contrast is exploited by Agbor to communicate the ‘black experience’ - how she feels “we are expected to almost be shells of ourselves in order to assimilate and not disturb the status quo of a world already so strange.”
Chinaza Agbor lives and works in Brighton, UK. Agbor graduated with an MA in painting from the Royal College of Art in 2022. Solo exhibitions include; Chinaza Agbor, Cob Gallery, London, UK (forthcoming December 2023); Chinaza Agbor, Jeffrey Deitch Gallery, Los Angeles, US (forthcoming 2023). Group exhibitions include Goddesses, Jeffrey Deitch Gallery, Art Basel Miami Beach, Miami, US (2022); Shattered Glass, Jeffrey Deitch Gallery, Los Angeles, US (2021).