Working primarily with charcoal and graphite on paper, self-taught artist Arinze Stanley creates hyperreal portraits that highlight the African existence as a catalyst for social change and political activism. The Nigerian artist is currently showing ‘Mirrors’, a body of new work with Jonathan Levine Projects at its Mana Contemporary gallery space in New Jersey.

By addressing humanitarian issues both in his hometown and worldwide, such as modern day slavery and women’s rights, he utilizes his art as a way to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. As a result, his lifesize drawings trigger an intense emotional connection between subjects and viewers.

In this new body of work Stanley explores human nature and the connection between all living things. He wants viewers’ eyes to pour over the details of each composition and establish a kinship with his subject’s unique expressions, moods and emotions. Ideally, this will foster an out of body experience in which viewers perceive themselves in this alternative reality. The artist describes this journey as “a first class ride on seeing yourself from outside the box and in the image of others.”

Stanley recognizes “the three P” – patience, practice and persistence – as what’s guided his journey as an artist and allowed him to master hyperrealism. He elaborates, “It’s sort of like energy transfer. Most times I feel like I transfer my energy into a blank piece of paper through my pencils and it becomes art.” The artist hopes this intense energy exchange will foster an artist-viewer bond and establish conversations of love and understanding.





Mirrors is on view through November 17 at Mana Contemporary in Jersey City, New Jersey.