Thursday 22 September 2011

Ndidi Dike, Krydz Ikwuemesi, Okey Nwafor and Nkem Udeani

Austria voyage for Uli 'apostles'
(First published Mar 18-24, 2007)
My Hands Are Clean (2006), by Okey Nwafor
LIKE the white missionary of old who once sailed Africa to spread their faith, a contingent of artists recently took the native art of Eastern Nigeria known as Uli to Europe.
 UNDER the theme, The Politics of Culture: Re-engaging Uli, the show, which held in Graz, Austria, involved five Nigerian artists — Ndidi Dike, Krydz Ikwuemesi, Okey Nwafor and Nkem Udeani. They were led by the director of Pendulum Gallery and co-ordinator of the project, Peter Areh.
    On his return from the trip, one of the participating artists, Nwafor said central to the workshop was the Igbo Uli ideogram and its significance in the modern day predilection towards art that abhors tradition and all its trappings.
  Part of the event, Nwafor disclosed is a 20-minute documentary by Ikwuemesi, which he said, focused on Uli, its vernacular and universal significations.
Also Dike’s Elegance of Uli, an abstraction that conceals some movement of gracefulness featured. 
  Justice Where Are You, is a painting by Nwafor expresses in the abstract context search for fair play. The feel of the royal setting back home was exhorted in Udeani’s Authority Symbol. 
  The project, Nwafor explained went further in the practical context as the team engaged their Austrian hosts in the art on two different occasions.
  “We had a mural painting session that worked out the initial outlines of motifs, which was then painted by everybody, including the Austrian participants.”
  The mural session was followed by a textile design workshop using uli symbols; it was led by Udeani, Nwafor added.
  Re-engaging Uli is a joint project of the Austrian government and the Lagos based art promoters, Pendulum Centre for Culture and Development.
  The project, Areh said, “is an extension of a research/exhibition sponsored by Pendulum Art Gallery in 2005.”
  The choice of Austria may not be misjudged given its close proximity with Germany where older Uli exponents such as Uche Okeke and Obiora Udechukwu had spread the art in galleries and other art centres, in the years past, Areh said.
  In addition to the cultural value, the journey, Areh observed, was a mission Nigeria needed at this period of image re-birth. 
  The Nigerian diplomats in Austria led by Ambassador to Austria, Biodun Owoseni, were said to be part of the event.

DIKE, a culture activist, sculptor and painter, was trained at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. With a major in painting, she has had 10 solo exhibitions, and participated in over 50 group shows in the U.S, France, Britain, Cuba, Indonesia, Canada, Kenya, Senegal and South Africa.
  Ikwuemesi was born on July 31, 1967. He
studied Fine Art at University of Nigeria, Nsukka, graduating with First Class in 1992. He is the founding member and emeritus secretary of The Visual Orchestra and has been, since 1991, the International Secretary of The Pan African Circle of Artists, PACA. 
Symbiosis (2006) by Okey Nwafor

  Nwafor holds a BA Fine and Applied Arts (Painting) of University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He has participated in a number of group exhibitions. A poet, he has been published widely in journals and newspapers and has a poetry collection to his credit. He teaches Drawing in the Department of Fine and Applied Arts, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State, Nigeria.

IT would be recalled that Udechukwu’s exploits with the renowned German-born African culture promoter, Ulli Beier in Bayreuth, Germany, and Uche Okeke’s activities in most German cities during his studies in stained glass in Germany in the 60s were the early attempts in this direction of Uli art.

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