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May 23, 2022
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Into the sensual and vibrant universe of Ngadi Smart’s illustrations

Solid colors and different textures converse in Ngadi Smart’s illustrations, where sensuality and sexuality collide with boldness and excitement.

Sierra Leonan multidisciplinary artist Ngadi Smart evolves in two different worlds: photography and illustration. If both are used with the same aim, communicating the same freeing feeling out of gender binaries and sexual repressions, one’s softness seems like the other side of the coin to the other’s vibrancy.

Born in the UK, Ngadi Smart studied illustration and design there, as well as at OCAD University in Canada. She took courses in Côte d'Ivoire and Tunisia too, nourishing her art with the diversity of cultures she encountered. Later on, she taught herself photography. She would walk the streets of Toronto, asking people to take photographs of them at their homes. Weirdly enough, most would say yes.

Today, Ngadi Smart’s photographs and illustrations are displayed in The Guardian, The Atlantic, and Gay Times Magazine. Navigating between personal projects and commissioned works, her hand is yet always recognizable, through her colorful, detailed, and carefully crafted illustrations. Ngadi Smart also illustrates books, the most recent being “Musical Truth: a historical Musical History of Modern Black Britain in 28 songs” by Jeffrey Boakye.

Through her work, Ngadi Smart extends the limits of gender and sexuality. Dedicated to the portrayal of strong women, she explores gender dynamics and plays with them. Strongly inspired by fashion, a love that came from her parents’ old pictures in Sierra Leone in the 70s and 80s, she likes to delve into the relationships between self-identity and fashion.

Sexuality is a recurring theme within her work: After moving back to West Africa as an adult, she wanted to explore black sensuality through an African lens. Black women's sexuality being under (or mis) represented, she wants to portray its layers and nuances and normalize its representation. Scroll down below to discover some of Ngadi Smart’s work!

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