Friday 14 October 2011


Dike and a Tapestry of Life

By Tajudeen Sowole
(First published in May 2008)
FROM a longer sojourn in dimensional expression, Ndidi Dike, an artist who prides herself as one of the Uli (native art of eastern Nigeria) ambassadors returns to the flat surface.
  In this body of work she titled Tapestry of Life, the abstract expressionist sculptor / painter, has found what, in the last few years, appeared to have contributed to her new experimentation.
  These works head for her solo exhibition at the National Museum Gallery, Onikan, Lagos, opening on April 26, till May 10, 2008.
  Tracing the beginning of this new page in her career to a particular work, Wall Gecko Tails, Dike explained that the come-back to painting which started with this work in 2004 has further convinced her that she could make more impact.
Ndidi Dike's painting, Earthscape Being II

"The theme, Tapestry of Life talks about different aspects of life. It’s a new beginning in my visual repertoire," she declared.
  Less than three weeks to the opening of the show, Dike, while explaining her gradual and steady approach to this page in her career appeared naïve:  carefully, she released her words, explaining the works like a candidate before an examiner. And when she uttered a sentence like "I realised I could actually paint", one then concluded that she must have been modest, and not really naïve about her painting skills.
  As she brought out the works, one after the other, the aesthetics and subjects spoke volume of an artist whose skills to communicate appears richer on the canvas. 
  She explained:"I reinvented myself in the month of June 2004. The call was of vibrant colours. I was propelled to paint with such urgency that it was almost fever pitched. I heeded the passionate call of my creative instincts."
Nmaru by Ndidi Dike

  And there was a carry-over as the artist would not let go of the earth and brighter colour hue she was known for as a mixed media sculptor. This could be seen in such works like Layers of our existence, Divergence, Earthscape and Earth Corridors.
Recalling the progression of her journey through the canvas, she said attempt at larger sizes gave her the confidence needed to play with abstraction.
  However, another colour hue, this time of blue, came out of that freedom gained playing around with colours. The Minds of Lanscape, Rhapsody of Blue, Unfinished Affair were some of the works from that experimentation. For the Unfinished Affair, she took a brush trip to Abeokuta, Ogun State, an ancient city known for its Adire (dye and tie customised textile) and came up with what she described as "different hues of blue derivative of the traditional method of Adire dying in Abeokuta."
  Observers of the nation’s art would agree that Dike is one of the very few artists around whose choice of colours are very subtle.
  As an artist of diverse subjects, Dike recently had a installation art show as part of a documentary project of Centre for Contemporary Art, CCA, Lagos’s Democracy, 3 Solo Exhibitions and a Publication. 
Ndidi Dike

   Her exhibition of the documentary, Waka-into-
Bondage: The Last 3/4 Mile, of sculptures, photographs and installations which took visitors at the centre back sixteen centuries
ago, would go into records as the only statement from
this part of the world to the bicentenary of slave
trade being marked in the U.K. and the Caribbean.
  Few of her past exhibitions include Totems & Signposts, 2002,
Goethe-Institut Lagos, Cultural Caravan: an exhibition of sculptural
reliefs with multi-media at French Cultural Centre, Ikoyi-Lagos, and in 2000 Textural Dialogue on Wood at, Galleria Romana, Ikoyi, Lagos Nigeria.
  Some of Dike’s international outing are: Nigerian Contemporary Art: A Woman’s Perspective, 1992 at Ragdale Foundation for the  Arts, Lake Forest Illinois, Chicago,  U.S, 1992 and in 1995 Kabasa Exhibit with two Zambian sculptors at Gasworks Studios and Gallery, U.K.

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