Jelili Atiku
Photo: Kane Cunningham
Photo: Kane Cunningham

b. 1968, Lagos

Jelili Atiku graduated with honors from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria, in 1998 with a BA in fine arts. He went on to receive a MA in visual arts from the University of Lagos, Akoka in 2006.

Referring to himself as a “human rights artist,” he advocates in his work social, economic, and political human rights and the establishment of an egalitarian society. Primarily working in sculpture and performance, he uses art as a medium for protest, to raise awareness and to bring about change. In his frequently outdoor performances, the artist—often wrapped in rope, plastic, or fabric, which allows him to maintain a quasi-anonymous, generalized persona—crawls, staggers, and falls into positions evocative of destruction, pain, or inequality while interacting with imagery, text, and props that compound his messages.

Atiku’s performances include Agbo Rago, Ejigbo Ram Market, Lagos (2012); Eleniyan, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda (2012): Quest for Gaia, Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos (2010); Red Light, Fine Arts Department, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria (2009); I am Black, Black & Black, Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos (2009); and Ewawo: The Nigerian Prisoner, Visual Arts Section, University of Lagos, Akoka (2005). Among his exhibitions are End Extreme Poverty Now and Standing Against Poverty, United Nations Information Centre, Ikoyi, Lagos (2007, group); and Shadows in the Dark, National Museum, Onikan, Lagos (2004, solo). He was also a participant in the year-long project On Independence and the Ambivalence of Promise organized by the Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos (2010). In addition to his artistic practice, Atiku is actively involved in numerous public service organizations and is the founder of Advocate for Human Rights Through Arts.