Friday 14 October 2011


Ovbiebo's doors of unseen voice
 FOR those who felt the young sculptor, Richardson Ovbiebo’s impressive entry into the art scene three years ago was a flash in the pan, his just concluded solo show, titled, The Forms I Heard, mounted at The White Space, Ikoyi, Lagos, has proven otherwise.
  As a fresh graduate then, his work was among the surprised sale at the maiden edition of ArtHouse Contemporary auction in Lagos, in 2008. 
I Better Pass My Neigbhour, a metal piece by Richardson Ovbiebo

  This was a year after he emerged first prize winner in the African Artist Foundation (AAF) and Nigerian Breweries Plc organised national art competition tagged, Nigeria, the Future I See. Traces of this victory are seen in the concept as well as depth of The Forms I Heard.
  Using the analogy of entry and exit, Ovbiebo’s choice of doors, either in sketches and finished sculptural pieces — metal, wood and other media — are functional narratives that draw attention.
  In Will Out, Wheel In (wood, bicycle wheel, mirrors and Perspex), though the handle on the closed door shows entry or exit, the choice between ‘willing and wheeling’, perhaps, lies in one of the mirrors depicting the two.
  And sometimes, it’s not about a choice, so suggest ½ Baked (wood, perspex, metal, resin, newspapers and acrylics), two doors of five visual narratives. Each one shows some caged figures.
  “It’s about the state of our education,” Ovbiebo states, while noting that training at all levels, either formal or informal, ends up producing “half-baked young ones.”
  That indeed, sounds very familiar, but more alarming when coming from a person of younger generation such as Ovbiebo.   
   THE power outage in the country is captured in I Better Pass My Neighbour, an adaptation of Nigerian slogan for alternative source of power such as electric generator — A no contest battle between owners of kerosene lanterns and generators. However, in this twin work, the artist adds quite a level of aesthetics that could make this piece more attractive.  
Without Borders II, metal work of Richardson Ovbiebo
   He recalls, “the concept of the show started with my participation in a photography residency at the Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA), Lagos in 2010 titled, On Independence and the Ambivalence of Promise.”
  He explains that the “choice of the door and how it could be used came from my study of the works of Marcel Duchamp and Robin Rhodes before and during the residency. Duchamp’s No. 11, rue Larry and Robin Rhodes’ interactive drawings were quite instrumental.”
    Like most concerned Nigerians, this young artist insists that issues such as insecurity, poor management of the environment, non existing urban planning, inadequate energy generation and fallen standard of education make the future bleak, particularly for his generation.
  In this clamour for change, how much of art is seen or heard by the larger society? Art, the sculptor agrees, is still not taken with the seriousness it deserves.
  The curator, Temitayo Ogunbiyi, who was one of the exhibiting artists with Ovbiebo in the group show, Kilo of Hope, notes, “the work highlights the relationships between human and objects, and how these items influence the way human lives.” 
  Born March 28, 1982, Ovbiebo graduated from Yaba College of Technology, Lagos in 2007.
 Auction record: A metal sculpture, Rhythms of Life emerged as one of the most appreciated bids, from N50, 000 bidding price it was sold at N300, 000 during the ArtHouse Contemporary auction in Lagos April 2008.                 

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