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Deborah Segun



“I didn’t give myself a chance to fall in love with myself because I didn’t think she was deserving of it”

Deborah Segun
Debora Segun, There’s Always Time for Rest, 2021. Acrylic on canvas. 50 x 60 cm.

Deborah Segun was born in 1994 in Nigeria and remains to live and work in Lagos. Her work has packed quite the punch across various art shows and fairs since the emergence of the pandemic, ranging from Frieze, 154, Armory New York and FIAC Paris.

Cementing her UK presence in her first debut show, this body of works demonstrates the artists journey of self-gratitude and learned acts of inner kindness. Turning the mirror onto

herself through this set of vibrant silhouettes, the viewer is invited to share and consider to what extent are they truly practicing self-love.

Segun has solidified her style through a carefully constructed vibrant pastel pallet to communicate restful intimate portraits. Her large-scale canvases summon the viewer to follow the curvatures of the figures, where their calming features and heavy eyelids create a sense of peace. Despite the sort of cubist abstraction that she harnesses, the considered colour scheme makes such bold tones feel overwhelmingly serene.

A much-needed antidote in the trying times of the pandemic, Segun poses that above everything, the toughest challenge roots from our own internal dialogues. Where time alone has been in excess, we have been abruptly met with the formidable task of rebuilding and reshaping a better relationship with ourselves.

Debora Segun, Self Soothing, 2021. Acrylic on Canvas. 140 x 180 cm.

The languid forms and delicate embraces engulf the viewer in a warm hug where the artist has shared her own intimate moments of love. She works at a large scale, almost anthropomorphically to further engulf the viewer. Where depth and texture are omitted, there

is a sort of primal essence found in the simplicity of her style. It forces the viewer to zone in on the overall feeling and aura offered by the compositions. We are naturally drawn to the actions of the hands, the tempered contentment of the face and the vibrant yet sensual curvature of the figures. Such an omittance of detail, in an almost minimalist sense, heightens the reflection of her outward expressions of self-love upon the viewer.

The exaggerated proportions and layering of bolded abstracted shapes echo the style of Picasso in many ways, yet the pastel pallet and curvaceous womanly form brings a refreshed infusion of elusive femininity. Segun also inserts the previously omitted presence of the black woman into this established discipline, to further explore this notion of identity and the body as a ground for explorative subject matter. However, she does not, as of yet, inflict overt socio- political overtones into these portraits. There are internalized emotive and mindful depths of the subconscious to be explored that take precedence. As a result of this alternative take, she redefines her position within the broad scope of contemporary art. She explores concerns that come from within, instead of reversing the lens of her identity outwardly. Where this may evolve in the future, for now it is not only refreshing but also the exact remedy for a post pandemic audience. An important message is at stake and Segun takes no subtlety in placing it at the centre this show.

Debora Segun, Safe Haven, 2021. Acrylic on Canvas. 180 x 140 cm.

The soft repose of the figures interweaved in multiple embracing arms and engulfed by their own form thoughtfully reminds to tune into ourselves, offer ourselves the comfort that we may assume must come from others. Segun gently reinforces the desperately crucial act of self-love through her own visual guide and personal portraiture. Where there is a tentative refrain peeking through the self-embracing postures, this only further translates to our own experience of navigating healthy positive relationships with ourselves and bodies. There is also a crucial interplay of self-awareness and acceptance, as she holds her own hand to remind us that we must do the same. Whilst in the formative stages of her career this show offers a nascent insight into her proactive navigation and redefining of her and by extension our own beauty.

Infusing self-love, identity and body into this gentle experience, Segun’s consoling paintings remind us to tune into ourselves and channel our own unique beauty.

“I don’t just want to exist; I want to be present and in tune with myself. She has been kind enough to give me life and I must reciprocate this kindness.”

Deborah Segun

Imogen Haisman

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