Nigerian dynamo Lakin Ogunbanwo was born in Lagos in 1987. In addition to his burgeoning reputation as one of Africa’s artistic luminaries, Ogunbanwo boasts an extensive background in fashion photography; so it comes as something of a surprise to learn that this photographer originally studied law, both at Babcock University in Nigeria, and at Buckingham University in England. The main body of his portfolio comprises intimate, subversive portraiture, and is at times an edgy take on the style of studio photography that became popular in West Africa in the 1960s and ’70s. Examples of Ogunbawo’s work have been featured in British GQ, Times New York, Riposte Magazine, and ID online. His 2014 and 2015 collections, New Work and Are We Good Enough, exhibited at Whatiftheworld gallery in Cape Town; Portraits by Lakin Ogunbanwo (2013) was showcased at Rooke & Van Wyk Gallery in Johannesburg. Ogunbanwo has also appeared in a number of group exhibitions, such as Dey Your Lane!, which appeared at Bozar in Brussels, at Art x Lagos, and at the Lagos Photo Festival 2016.
Ogunbawo’s photographs are arresting interpretations of aspects of African identities through time, works that dissolve the traditional distinction between fashion and artistic photography; and his renown is growing internationally. In 2015, the British Journal of Photography identified him as one of the Top 25 photographers of the year in its Ones to Watch edition. He was also recently commissioned to produce installations for the window displays of the Galeries Lafayette in Paris. At present, Ogunbanwo is on a residency with Red Hook Labs in New York, a public-benefit corporation that establishes arts education in public schools and community centres. As he puts it himself, “it’s extremely busy times” for this African icon in the making.
Ogunbanwo’s Wanted shoot showcases designs from up-and-coming South African menswear designer, Nao Serati. Based in Johannesburg, Serati is a Lisof graduate, and recently showcased his Autumn/Winter collection at SA Menswear Week 2017. His brand of contemporary athleisure is a playful, defiant revision of gender, sexuality, and modern masculinity, the ideal subject for Ogunbanwo’s bold, ambiguous paradigm. The shoot took place in Nigeria, and was more or less freestyle; since Ogunbanwo’s work always straddles fashion and portraiture, the experience wasn’t “any different to what I do normally”. The finished product is a brightly hued testament to the enormous wealth of creative talent in Africa today.