Born in Benin City (Nigeria), Tega Akpokona's atmospheric oil paintings examine the human experience as forged by cultural identity. In his work, Akpokona centers the black figure, showing fictional characters in paintings that merge nostalgia with contemporary settings. "As Africans we are now questioning our identity and beginning to find ourselves. Crystallized out of past influences, this is now embodied in how we look, how we dress and how we are," he describes the inspiration for his approach.
In his painting technique, Akpokona draws on Dutch Baroque in his use of light and subtle color contrast. He counts Van Dyk, Rembrandt, Caravaggio, Reubens and Vermeer among his influences, stating that "I'm fascinated by the way they told their stories. From the theatrical lighting, dramatic movement of forms, to the depth of emotions they conveyed through paint. Thus, the prevalent feature in all themes I explore in my work is light and how it interacts with human existence." Akpokona has exhibited his work in Lagos and London and was presented at the 2018 and 2019 editions of Art X Lagos. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Fine and Applied Arts from the University of Benin in Nigeria in 2011 and currently lives in Lagos.