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  • Hilary Northcraft

EKOW NIMAKO BUILDS 'UNEQUIVOCALLY BLACK' ART

Ekow Nimako began his art practice at the age of four. When he was young, he knew he wanted to play with LEGO forever. His dream has manifested into a highly elevated version of his childhood hobby. Based in Toronto, Nimako is now an internationally exhibiting visual artist, sculptor, and LEGO artist who crafts futuristic and whimsical sculptures from the iconic medium. "His fluid building style, coupled with the Afrofuturistic themes of his work, beautifully transcend the geometric medium to embody organic and fantastical silhouettes" (Ekow Nimako).


Today, Nimako works solely with black LEGO, a choice designed to distinguish his practice from the iconic brand. “My distinction was that I wanted to make artwork for which the medium was secondary,” he shares. “The form and content, the embodiment of life, always comes first with my work.” (Colossal).


His ongoing and critically acclaimed series "Building Black" explores black identity through a surrealist lens. The collection is expansive, including masks inspired by West African tradition and mythological characters that draw on folklore and proverbs. Along with these creations, Nimako built a 30 square foot architectural sculpture that imagines what the ancient capital city of the Ghana Empire may have looked like in 3020 CE.



Ranging from life-sized figurative sculptures with an eccentric twist to sprawling landscapes mimicking dense metropolises, Nimako’s artworks are rooted in the visionary realm of Afrofuturism, which “explores the intersection of technology and race to visualize a powerful future for the African diaspora” through a hearty dose of hope and strength. (Colossal)


From building African empires, both medieval and futuristic, to life-sized figurative sculptures like Cavalier Noir (Nuit Blanche, 2018), and expressing his love for nature through larger-than-life sculptures of endangered animals, Nimako is reimagining and repurposing a commercial product into creations that center Black narratives and whimsy. For more on Ekow Nimako, check out the video below or visit his website.