Nneka Uzoigwe is establishing herself as a leading light in contemporary British representational painting. An alumni and now tutor at ⁠London Fine Art Studios, she has reached an enviable level of technical facility. In her work Nneka puts a country mile between herself and many of her atelier trained contemporaries by introducing elements of the surreal into her multi-layered narratives. These paintings reflect Nneka’s ongoing fascination with Symbolism, an interest fired by her invitation as Artist in Residence at the Watts Gallery, the Arts & Crafts Museum dedicated to the work of George Frederick Watts. The mythological inspired works painted in response to her time there, were exhibited alongside the collection of Watts' paintings in the Museum in 2021. ⁠


When it comes to portraiture, Nneka enjoys portraying “an inner emotion of flight of fancy.” She will often set up a painting with herself first, spending time to try different pieces of clothing and adding objects to get a good synchronicity. “I find clothing brings a sense of escapism to my work,” she says. “With beautiful fabrics coming together, there is a sort of otherworldliness.”

There is a tenderness to her portraits, which are created through up to seven sittings, each taking three hours. “The lighting is important, and also the expression,” she says, preferring a natural expression with a sense of subtlety. “I don’t like portraits where they are drawn perfectly, but there is no emotion.” 


Recent commissions have included two paintings for the main hall in Oriel College, University of Oxford, celebrating the achievements of Regius Professor of History, Lyndal Roper, and Oriel and Laing Professor of the Interpretation of Holy Scripture, Hindy Najman.

Winner of The de Laszlo Foundation Award in 2020 for the most outstanding portrait by an artist aged 35 or under and Nneka was awarded The Royal Society of Portrait Painters Award in 2022