British-Nigerian gallerist Jennifer Akinsuyi ran her JonaQuestArts Gallery from a much sought after location in Greenwich, London in the heart of its tourist centre, with eager footfall only a maritime museum away. However, she decided to close operations a few months before Covid hit these shores and the pandemic accelerated her move from gallerist to visual artist in her own right.
Of her own work, she says she committed to painting in 2018 after dabbling for a few years. She was not a trained artist but decided to try out her talents by exhibiting her work in a gallery without letting people know her background and to her surprise her work started selling quickly.
She specialises in abstract art with an African element. One piece in her Rise series is notable for its reflective and philosophical blue palette and comments on the trials and tribulations in a life’s journey and how we must learn to take the rough with the smooth.
Also, her mixed media abstract work speaks of Nigerian culture and the lace fabric worn at parties. These pieces from her Owambe series are decorated with diamond dust and swarovski crystals.
She still promotes other artists and the Jona Quest Arts brand lives on through pop ups and art events. Her gallery championed and empowered female artists and those from minority groups and she is still passionately committed to this. A selection of her artists’ work was on show at her stand at the Battersea Affordable Arts Fair, July 2021 alongside her own paintings and sculptures.
Amongst the artists she was showcasing – Ronald and Euwitt Nyanhongo from a multigenerational family of Zimbabwean sculptors who specialise in Shona sculpture. Birmingham, UK-based Ronald uses opal, springtone and green nyanga serpentine for his creations while Euwitt works in opal, sprintone Nyanga serpentine, leopard rock and lapidolite to depict the natural world and the spirits and mythological beliefs of Zimbabwe’s Shona tribe. Both artists have made a name in their own right but come from a renowned family of Shona sculptors .
Ultimately, Jennifer regards her work as an expression of her dual British and Nigerian heritage. Much of her creation is found in an examination of existence, humanity and society and coloured by travels to and interaction with her African heritage, combined with the cultural stories of her London base.
Writer Eddie Saint-Jean is an arts and culture writer who reviews the London art scene and is familiar face at many exhibitions and private views in the capital. He is also an artist working in moving image and photography. His former studies in Visual Theories in Art and Film permeate his career as a journalist, artist and filmmaker.