Blending sturdy metal with the soft warmth of wool, Joshua Adokuru winds vibrant fibers around precisely placed nails that anchor his expressive and abstract portraits. The Abuja-based artist always incorporates strings in shades of blue, which fill amorphous shapes highlighting the subject’s face or defining the checkered pattern of a sweater. It’s “a natural color, a color of the sky, a color of the sea,” he says, noting that he gravitates toward bold, fantastical hues for skin tones. “Blue has this feeling of peace, a feeling of serenity.”
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Formally trained in computer science, Adokuru has been experimenting with different mediums since secondary school, but it wasn’t until spring of 2020 that he started working with thread. His pieces, which are often larger than life, begin with a photograph of a child or friend, which are then translated into a simple sketch on a wooden board. Adokuru accentuates the figure’s silhouette, facial features, and any motif on their clothing or in the backdrop with nails that are glued in place, sprayed with black paint, and finally covered in taught thread. Because the artist is most concerned with capturing his subjects’ exact expressions, he always completes the eyes last.