Art X History

RELIVING HISTORY WITH ARTISTIC EXPRESSION

FRED MARTINS

FRED MARTINS

Have you met Fred Martins? He is the Nigerian artist who uses afro comb to illustrate portraits of African Activists, born in Aggah-Egbema and lived in Omoku both in Rivers State, Nigeria. “I started as a graphic designer in 2004 and later grew into visual art, conceptualizing and directing surreal photography and short art videos aside making digital arts”; currently in Lviv, Ukraine, he turns to the iconic afro comb to illustrate portraits of African activists such as Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Patrice Lumumba and Fela Kuti, all who were discredited for advocating for freedom and fairness for Africans. 

Want to connect with him further? visit his website here

 

His latest project

The Afro comb dates back to pre-dynastic Egypt, though it became a provocative symbol in the 1970s when its iconography evolved into a black fist, referencing the spirit of the Civil Rights and Black Panther movements, becoming synonymous with black pride and identity. And according to History Workshop, the Afro comb of this era was originally patented by two black Americans, Samuel H. Bundles Jr., and Henry M. Childrey. 

However, many manifestations emerged during that period, including a folding comb. Some viewed the hair accessory as an inflammatory symbol, which contributed to police stopping and frisking Afro comb-wearers. It also came to represent cross-cultural exchange among people from the African diaspora as color variations were manufactured in Nigeria in the early 1980s.

 

His newest project tagged “Orange, Black and Freedom.” has received worldwide acclaim; "I chose orange because it's associated with prison", he told CNN; using jail mug shots to capture a side view of the activists' faces, Fred hopes for  young Africans to know more about our history and guide it through time, and for African leaders to champion good leadership. As for the comb, he says "Worn in the 1970s by fluffy afro-ed youths in America as a protest against repression, it's a symbol that goes beyond style and adornment."

As for the comb, he says "Worn in the 1970s by fluffy afro-ed youths in America as a protest against repression, it's a symbol that goes beyond style and adornment."

What interests us about Fred is that even in this technology age where efforts are rather made to erase and tarnish african history, is a new generation man rather than go neck deep in to social media utilization would rather focus his art on cultural preservation and story telling.