Thursday 13 October 2011


Lady on the velvet, waits...
(First published in 2007)
ABOUT two months after it was the centre of attraction in a show that involved over 30 other works, a painting that qualifies to be a classic still waits inside the gallery of Henrimoweta African Art Centre, Anthony Village, venue of the event.
  The acrylic on velvet piece by painter Vincent Ozemwegie, titled From the Stream, is a metaphor on the red sticker politics of exhibition circuit. Everything that could evoke ecstasy has been invested into this painting of an unidentified lady.
   Captured at a stream – perhaps one of the very few places most men like to meet their dream women – the lady's waist, strategically painted against the beam of the sky line and subtly lit by the moon, is the immediate attention of a viewer. 
  That ‘ideal' elegance most men seek in a woman reverberates in that curve as confirmed by the beads which rests sensuously just at the curve line.
  Ozemwegie further brings to life this (mysterious?) lady, as he invests his prowess with the brush on the torso of her image. If the voices of acrylic and brushes used on this work could be heard, they must be showering praises on whoever discovered the velvet fabric. The velvet material on which the work is painted, a deviation from the common canvas, cannot be taken away from this intoxicating composite. What with the dark brown but glowing two-piece costume of the lady, blending perfectly with the texture of the wears, to create an illusion of sleeking, under the moonlight.
  Call it a balance composition, and you just hit the right cord as the three water pots on the scene add to the elegance of 'the lady of the stream — one each at the feet of the figure and the third, on her shoulder.
  BUT how did this piece miss the red tag of a collector with the right purse?
  “Not one yet,” artist and gallery operator owner of Henrimoweta, Henri Moweta states. “Nearly everybody who visited during and after the exhibition wanted to have the work, but bargain just wasn’t right,” Moweta explains.
  This brings up the issue of what constitutes value in an art piece. It could be argued that taste is a relative term, but in art, value is more important as every piece of art has the potential to appreciate beyond its initial worth and possibly attract public interest in future.
  Between the studio and the gallery comes someone who should know better – the promoter. In the case of From the Stream, Mowetta appears as someone who would not lose an hair over the lady on the velvet. “It will go. And for the right worth too,” he assures with the ease of a water seller on a desert. 

THE exhibition, simply titled Culture,  had 10 artists on display, including those with sculptures and crafts. Perhaps another name for artist Ozemwegie is ‘Irony’. Given that the show was adjudged a success, which could mean that most of the works were sold. However, From the Stream, the only work of the artist in the group exhibition, remained the bride that everyone love, but only few can afford.
  Sculptures in abstract and realism, which were part of the exhibition came from Henri Mowetta and Cletus Ugobanwa. The sculptor’s presentations ranged from Ife Head to simple decors in the form of kitchen mortars and wood piece of what look like the sculpture version of From the Stream.

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