Friday 2 September 2011

Emmanuel Inua

Inua... wailing with women
 Sunday, 06 March 2011 00:00 
The Gari Seller, mixed media (2010)
African Pride
THE ethno-religious crisis in Jos is the theme of Emmanuel Inua’s latest show at Nike Art Gallery, Lekki, which opened yesterday.Titled When Women Wail (WWW), the show, Inua states, exposes the vulnerability of women and children in moments of crisis.
According to Inua, who is committed to the fight against abuse of women and children, especially those in Africa, “it is dedicated to women and children who were killed in the Jos fighting.”
And if anyone is in doubt as to the loss Plateau State is incurring in domestic tourism, the artist says, “Jos is of particular interest to me because I used to visit the city when I’m on holidays. Now, I can’t go to Jos as the crisis continues.”
Despite dedicating the show to a wailing people, works on display, indeed, are a pleasant contrast to the situation in that troubled part of the country. For example, in Sweet Mummy, a mixed media, Inua captures the affection between mother and child during breast-feeding.
And beyond her primary responsibility of bringing up children, the African woman’s entrepreneurial character is stressed in The Gari Seller.
With these and other known value of the African woman, Inua asks: “Why is the society hostile to these women?”
And as it appeared that When Women Wail (WWW) would not go into the visual details of the affected women of Jos, Inua states that the show is just a teaser. There is more to pour out on the virtue of women, he assures. “The main show on the subject holds later this year.”

DESPITE its figural rendition of contemporary women, Inua’s works are devoid of western elements, which most artists, sub-consciously imbibe, particularly when painting African women.
He depicts cultural nuances in its totality, as the anatomy, countenance and skin pigmentation truly represent the African woman.
Inua, to a very large extent, depicts everyday activities of the people, which make his work similar to regular artists next door; no pretext idealising the subject.
He argues, “an artist that exists among the people can’t pretend not to know the culture and value of his environment.”
Perhaps part of that cultural content is the sensuality of the female anatomy, which nearly every piece of his works depicts. This, he radiates in African Bride, a nude painting, which explains some ceremonial costuming of an unidentified culture in parts of the continent.
Conservative approach to art is apparently not the artist’s idea of promoting art. Art, he believes should not remain elitist forever. Outdoor shows should complement galleries, he stresses.
This, perhaps, explains his outing, two years ago, when he showed Africa Celebrates at the food courts of Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA-2). He believes that art must not be confined within the formal gallery space. “Art should be taken to the people.”

INUA, a 1987 graduate of the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), is currently extending his creativity across other genres of art such as photography, poetry and screenplay for movie productions.

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