Friday 16 September 2011

Tony Emodi

Reminiscence... Emodi’s triumphs over fate
(First published Dec 24 - 30)
EVERY professional has a goal to make impact within a possible time frame while in active practice.
  For sculptor, Tony Emodi, it is a race against time, as he struggles to come back to the art gallery scene, even on a wheel chair, four years after his involvement in a fatal auto crash that nearly claimed his life.
  His first show after the accident is, coincidentally, the first in his over 20-year career. Perhaps, it could have come under another title if the artist did not found himself on this side of fate.
  But the show Reminiscence, which opened on Saturday, December 16, at the SADP Gallery, Yaba College of Technology, Lagos, looms largely on the past, and maybe, future of the artist, given the challenges ahead of him.
  Between the period of his accident and now, the artist has not been able to do any additional works. The exhibits were therefore products of his efforts from 1998 till the time of the accident.
  WITH bias for reclining figures, one of the pieces, which has a man in a relaxed posture with exaggerated legs, presents an upper limbs of contrasting size and short of one hand, a confirmation of the artist’s expression in the diverse class of sculpture.
  Emodi, who had his education in the north, relives memory of that part of the country in Nagaji (I am tired).
  IT is however noteworthy that female figure dominated the artist’s first solo outing. From Adanwa (Fine Woman), with the busty top, which aggressively draws the viewer’s attention away from the beautiful face of the subject, to the modestly dressed Pregnant Woman, expectantly seated on a stone and others in that gender, themes on women take quite some focus of the artist.
  Still on the feminine figures, Emodi takes his audience back in time to the Ancient Egypt in the sculptural portraiture of the famous Queen Nefertiti. 
  Simply titled Nefertiti, again, the uncovered female torso attracts the artist’s impression in the 14th century Egyptian symbol of royalty and senior wife of Pharaoh Amentohep IV.
  No apology. It’s natural that a male artist finds the female figures more inspiring than the masculine forms, he explains.
  In a female counterpart in far away culture, Emodi finds a defence. “Barbra Hepworth, a British artist once confessed that she finds male form more inspiring,” Emodi argues.
  But is he not inviting sexual motifs, in his search of inspiration to a rather creative subject?
“Not really, it’s just natural that one gets inspired by the figures of the opposite sex."

  EMODI’s works were mainly presented in fibre glass, bronze and wax, but he recalls that there was a period he had a passion for metal art, which eventually led to his involvement in panel beating of cars.
  Revisiting the accident, Emodi who has taken part in a number of group art shows, discloses that he was about to have what could have been his first solo outing when he had the auto crash.
  While confined to the wheel chair, sculpture is out of any consideration. What about softer genres like paintings or illustrations for a shift? 
  “Not now. I can’t even write a full page,” he responds quietly. But behind that weak mien lies a will to rise and pick up the pieces again. 
  A NATIVE of Aboh, Delta State, Emodi researched on reclining forms for public space embellishment for his MFA at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, in 1994 after his BA, Fine Art under Professor Ben Ekanem.


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