Hyphen... Joseph Eze's dual identityBy Tajudeen sowole
Tuesday, 08 March 2011 00:00
STILL in search of additional identity, painter Joseph Eze, has stepped up his experimentation with an art exhibition, which examines dual identity.
This, he will explain when his solo exhibition titled Hyphen opens at the Nike Art Gallery, Lekki on Saturday, March 12. It runs till March 18. In 2009, with a solo show titled What They Did Not Teach Me In Art School, Eze pondered over post-graduation dilemma of most artists.
At that show, he had noted, “I realised that I was not taught certain lessons that should have moulded me, in my career, during my school days at University of Nigeria, Nsukka.”
Now, about two years after, Eze is taking another look at the professional life of an artist, and will share what he argued as artists’ hyphenated characteristics. He declared, “it’s a continuation of the last show.” Hyphen, he said, is about artists’ dynamism, rather than the dilemma, which he focused in the last show.
|Woman with a Rose, mixed media (2010)
As the collection tastes of the society change in content, artists, he noted, have no choice, but to catch up with that satiation, hence such identity as “painter-designer,” and sometimes an odd one like “painter-carpenter,” for examples.
This much Eze attempts to exemplify in some of the works such as the installation; a three-piece assemblage titled The Live Band (recycled slippers and hand painted fabric).
He explained, “this work details the vivacity of the city life in Lagos, especially when it comes to its extravagant party culture, which commonly closes streets for other usages.” Indeed, the installation takes a viewer out of the usual art gallery display as the works: the sculptural guitar and painterly blouse-skirt dresses radiate a typical pop-culture environment.
Still on the “painter-designer” thought of Eze, another work, Woman With a Rose (mixed media), combines the figural painting of a lady with fabrics, in a composite that covertly places the design as a dominant content. The work, he explained, underscores “humans’ desire and anxiety.”
Satirically, comes an acrylic painting, Tired Nanny, which revisits the safety of babies in the temporary custody of day care culture in most urban areas. Most families, according to him, consider the nanny alternative as necessary. But Eze asked: “Is the nanny really indispensable in stressful city like Lagos?” The answer, he argued, could be found in the fact that “some families cope without the nanny, anyway.” The nanny culture, he warned, could be a sign of the failure in parental responsibility.
Artists’ search for identity after leaving school, is not unconnected to the fact that the formal training does not offer all the knowledge you need to survive post-school career. However, Eze demanded that there is need to take “a fresh look at the relevance of our Art School curricular with a view to making the artist more society-ready.”
|its not that simple, mixed media, (2010)
And the place of collection, which is the exit point of art, is crucial to the career of an artist. But some collectors, he argued, “are artistically blind” thereby making the terrain highly unpredictable. Eze explained: “friendship, family ties and other factors play out in most collectors’ choice of artist rather than the quality of the artist and his work.”
Eze had his first solo, Inside of Me in 2002 at Castledown Art Gallery, Victoria Island, Lagos and another group show, With a Human Face at Lagos Business School, Lekki, in 2006.
He graduated in 2002, and has been a studio artist for nine years. He made his debut appearance in a group show New Energies at Nimbus Art Centre and Mydrim Art Gallery, Ikoyi, Lagos, in 2001. Later that year, at the yearly National Youth Culture Festival Delegation in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, he came first for drawing, and second prize for painting.