Sunday 4 September 2011

Alex Nwokolo

It's Oju period for Nwokolo
Sunday, 04 September 2011 00:00
 LIKE most artists who have given art historians more than enough to feast on, particularly in what is known as ‘periods’ in the art parlance, Alex Nwokolo, in the last few years, has thematically done likewise.Called Oju (Face), the theme formed the bulk of Nwokolo’s last solo show titled Untitled, which held at Omenka Gallery, Ikoyi, Lagos.
Oju series of Alex nwokol (2010)
And as one ponders the emptiness of Untitled for a show, more surprises on the avant-garde approach to the works, emerged.
The blankness, Nwokolo, states, “was novel, not for lack of ideas, but to allow viewers fill the opening.”
For these shows, there are two textures of Oju: a soft, smoother surface newspaper waste collage and oil impasto. Either way, the artist seems to have affirmed the Yoruba adage, which states, Oju l’oro wa (penetrative gaze).
For each of the medium in use, the sensitivity of eye contact in expression and feeling is stressed. Even a face behind veil, rendered in monochrome tone, seemed not to have escaped the probity of the artist’s palette knife, so suggests this big close-up textured gaze on canvas.
Newspaper waste, as an extension of a primed canvas, keeps gaining acceptability among artists, particularly in the area of fusing drawing into painting.
For him, the acceptability of Oju transcends the home art market. One of the series, Fragmented Hope, recorded the most appreciated bidding during the Philips de Pury and Company Art auction of African works in the US two years ago.

ASIDE from of Oju, another familiar Nwokolo’s images, Untitled 6, falls between impressionism and expressionism. He says, “I am an expressionist;” this strength, which has similarities to the work of a Ghanaian master, Prof. Ablade Glover, takes the artist, thematically, into the house rent terrain of Lagos State.
In Untitled 6, the familiar aerial view of clustered houses, a beauty in chaos, is a revisit of the urban paradox: sea of roofs, yet rent remains unaffordable for most people.
However, with this group of works, Nwokolo has a distinct style as he creates shadow over the surface as seen in this piece that depicts huge shade of a tree over the houses.
Untitles 6 By Alex Nwokolo
Still on the paradox of urban life, a classic touch of abstraction and realism combined in Untitled 7, exposes the artist’s thought on the subject in such inscriptions as To Let, Ikoyi, Agreement Fee, For sale, 3-Bedroom, Self Cont, Not For sale Beware.
His understanding of the Lagos terrain, which has a link to his birth, in the city on July 11, 1963, has worked out very well for him, both as an artist and a businessman.
“I don’t believe in working too long on a work or painting large canvas, so that, I put a price tag of one million on it,” he discloses.
His work, which is mostly in medium and, sometimes, small sizes, he says, has taught him a wise lesson in art business. He argues, ‘it’s the content that counts, not always the size.”
Alex Nwokolo

A member of Guild of Professional Fine Artists of Nigeria (GFA), he had his Master’s degree in Painting from the University of Benin. He holds Higher National Diploma (HND) from Auchi Polytechnic, Edo State.

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