Portrait of the Artist


Karl Ohiri (pronounced Oh-hir-ri) is a London-born British-Nigerian artist working between Finland, the UK and Nigeria. His conceptually driven practice focuses on the Human condition and the lived experience by probing the attitudes and culture of contemporary society. The use of personal narratives, observations and daily encounters often form the starting point for his work exploring recurring themes related to popular culture, social issues, relationships, identity and cultural exchange.

Many of Ohiri's works start as written proposals, where the proposal is used as a tool to take creative initiative in collaborating with institutions, fellow artists, curators and members of the general public. His diverse practice captures a wide range of human emotions from the light-hearted and humorous to the sorrowful and serious, in an approach that seeks to create art from the everyday, incorporating the use of photography, text, video and everyday objects.

A more recent stand to his practice since moving to Helsinki in 2023 is grounded in the notion of social 'integration' amongst immigrants into Finnish society - seen as a two-way process, the artist is keen to interrogate ideas surrounding cultural exchange, inclusion and what it means to be 'Finnish' by playfully exploring Finnish identity and culture. The works will largely draw upon his own observations and experiences of integrating and living in Finland.

Ohiri's works have been exhibited internationally in venues and festivals that include: The Museum of Modern Art, The Courtauld Gallery, Tate Britain, Reattu Museum, National Portrait Gallery, Southbank Centre, Les Rencontres d' Arles and the Lagos Biennial among others with works held in several prominent collections.

Alongside his immediate practice he is the initiator and co-guardian of the Lagos Studio Archives. The cultural heritage project run with artist Riikka Kassinen aims to collect, preserve and present the archives of a generation of Lagos based photographers that discarded their film negatives due to a shift from analogue to digital photography. The working group and its activities are generously funded by the Kone Foundation for the years 2024 and 2025.

 

Image: Portrait of the Artist by his 5 year old daughter