Alain Serge Nitegeka | 4th solo exhibition, “Black Migrant” at Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York

By Thé-Onastine Ashimwe (Marayika)

While artists from different parts of East Africa have long invited people to interact physically and sensorially with their impressive sculptures, few endeavored to evoke such personal and specific emotional responses.

Serge Alain Nitegeka, through his painting, installations, and voice recordings, has sought to evoke physical and emotional experiences of forced migration through abstract experimentations with colour, form, and space. He is best known for his use of abstraction, notably his dramatic installation that involves forests of crisscrossing plywood, strakes, connected at irregular angles, and painted black.

“Migrant: Studio Study I,” 2020. Self-Portrait. Serge Alain Nitegeka | Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York


“Migrant: Studio Study VII,” 2020. Self-Portrait. Serge Alain Nitegeka | Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York

With a series of charcoal self-portrait, Nitegeka shares his personal journey in a tone that is lyrical and intimate: He is nude, standing or couching, his body barred by black blotches of paint as if pressed by a burden.


Mr. Nitegeka’s “Things I lost to the soil II,” from 2020 dried and pressed paint on wood. Serge Alain Nitegeka | Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York

His painting can tell a personal story of forced migration as well as the forced transportation of African people during the slave trade. “Identity is accumulated through experience,” Nitegeka says. “It is not just genes but also the myth of who you are.” His work is all about displacement, obstacles, and forced migration—a migrant journey.

| Alain Serge Nitegeka’s Studio in Johannesburg

Wood is ubiquitous in his practice, as a surface for his painting, and his dramatic installation made of crisscrossing

His installations have a mathematical beauty—a geometry, but they are also stubborn, raging. As an audience, you have to find your way through the puzzle. They are presented in an elegant formalized language.

Stuck in South Africa due to the pandemic, the Rwandan-Johannesburg artist believes that the circumstances have given him practice in the remote work that many artists will likely confront in the aftermath of the coronavirus until travel becomes feasible.

Till the days past COVID-

Check his work at Marianne Boesky Gallery

Follow his Serge Alain Nitegeka

For his art piece inquiry, contact | 2012.680.9889

For press inquiry, contact | 646.3692050

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