Man Met art student to have work displayed in Royal Academy summer exhibition

  • Ofunne Azinge, an MA art student at MMU, is having her work displayed at the exhibition 
  • She studied fine art at Leeds Arts University where she produced the work to be displayed

A Man Met art student at is having her work displayed at the Royal Academy summer exhibition.

The RA summer show is the world’s oldest open submission exhibition, having been held since 1769, and displays a variety of art from apsiring artists.

Prior to studying an MA in painting at MMU, Ofunne Azinge studied fine art at Leeds Arts University, where she produced the work displayed at the exhibition during the UKs third lockdown.

She said: “I carried on making these large-scale works in my tiny university bedroom and a lot it was based on nostalgia.”

Her work explores black masculinity in what is described as an inversion of male artists typically perceiving and depicting the female form.  “I’m always looking at how historically black men have been represented in painting,” Ofunne said.

Art, Royal Academy summer exhibition
Artwork created by Ofunne Azinge

“Except you can’t really look at masculinity without femininity and obviously from a female point of view it switches the idea of the male gaze to the female gaze as well, and so in a way I’m sort of romanticising my subjects and I’m blurring that line of gender.”

Ofunne said being in lockdown influenced her art heavily.

“I carried on making these large-scale works in my tiny university bedroom. The foundation of it was nostalgia, I was missing home, and obviously I was alone as well,” she said.

Her work paid off now that it has been selected for the summer exhibition, of which this year has been particularly significant for her. 

She said: “What this one in particular meant to me was it was hosted by Yinka Shonibare, and Yinka Shonibare’s an artist I’ve studied pretty much my entire life, and this particular exhibition was about reclaiming magic, it was about the joy of practicing and the joy of art.” 

Dr Ian Hartshorne, programme leader for MA Painting at Manchester School of Art, is thrilled at Ofunne’s selected for the exhibition.

“I’m very proud and pleased for Ofunne, who’s one of my current students,” he said.

“Some of the greatest artists who have ever lived and who are still living are included in this exhibition, but the great thing about it is that it also includes lots of anonymous people, so there’s a significant number of contributors to this exhibition.” 

Ofunne said many opportunities have arised since being selected for the exhibition, including being included in a BBC documentary.

“I love what I do and I can’t imagine doing anything else,” she said.