Thursday, 15 September 2011

Sussan Ogeyi Omagu (2006)

Omagu: Rising in Abstract
BY TAJUDEEN SOWOLE
(First published 10 April, 2006)

Though she debuted with her first solo exhibition a year ago, abstraction, is not just a matter of choice, but a passion.
Sussan Ogeyi Omagu has, since that solo titled Expectation held at Goethe Institut in April 2005, grown with a wider vision to shoot up her mission of abstract and minimalist art.
  In search of her subjects, Omagu researches well enough to get the best of any chosen work on the canvas.
One of such works is Gwari Women, a piece in oil on canvas. This work depicts the woman of the Northern Nigeria carrying loads on their back rather than the traditional use of heads for the same exercise as widely done by rural women. The women of Gwari, Omagu said, do not carry loads on their heads because they believe that the "head of a woman is her glory."
  If the head is the glory of some women, another culture seems to place a lady’s virtue in her buttocks as Omagu’s nude piece Haves and Have Nots explain.  Three different sizes and shapes of the ladies in nudes are painted with emphasis  on the softer back side. Curious that such a probe into the female anatomy is coming from an artist of the same gender. "Oh yes, it’s exciting. And the truth is that some have this thing, as large is it could be, while others don’t have at all," Omagu says.
Abstract art is widely believed to be attractive to female artists because of its 'simple and easy' forms. Omagu disagrees. Without taking anything from other artists who choose realism or other forms, the University of Port Harcourt graduate of Fine Art believes that  "realism is mundane, abstract is more challenging to sense of perception. It's like a puzzling." Even though she had always "liked odd things right from school," her choice of genre, she recalls materialised after the youth corps service.
Recently Omagu returned from a trip to German where she had exhibition for selected viewers like teachers, students and other education related professionals from different part of Germany.
  Though her major trip, she disclosed was on a two month scholarship to study German language, she says that her experience is such that one could get lost in German galleries. "Over there, there are different kind of exhibitions, some are classified as permanent while others are the common shows we know," she notes. 
  As a fresher from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria the artist recalled that she was full of expectation for a blossom career which led into quite a list of exhibitions. She was part of several group shows including a all female show, Progressive, organised by Nigerian Association of Female Artists, NAFA, and Heritage in Port Harcourt and Abuja respectively. She also added to her profile for being part of the exhibition at Commonwealth Heads of State and Government Meeting, CHOGOM 2003
in Abuja, where she presented six works. 
An active member of NAFA, Omagu’s other shows are usually gender related.  The two editions of Tomorrow People MEE, memorial exhibitions in honour of late journalist May Ezekiel had Omagu as one of the exhibiting artists.
  Unapologetic women right advocate, her position reflects in her works. "I am committed to better life for women, which is why my themes are usually on family values."
And how has that ambitious young lady of yesterday fair, realising that she has remained within the confinement of some familiar official system, from school to the civil service structure where she finds herself presently? As an employee with the Department of Curatorial Service, National Gallery of Art, NGA, Abuja, Omagu says she has no regret. "I have been at home here in NGA, my civil service status has not in anyway affected me as a professional artist."

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