Artists, family set to probe Inua’s death
By Tajudeen Sowole
Saturday, December 3, 2011 was a dark day for the visual artists and gallery owners in Nigeria as they got news of the death of their colleague, Emmanuel Inua, 45.
Inua, according to sources, met his death in a road accident involving his car and another one on the Lekki-Epe Express Road, Lagos in the midnight of Saturday.
The Chairman, Society of Nigerian Artists (SNA), Lagos Chapter, Oliver Enwonwu has disclosed that artists and the family were already meeting with a lawyer over the cause of Inua’s death.
Unconfirmed police report showed that the driver of the other vehicle was blamed for the accident. An artist and close friend of Inua (names withheld) explained that a doctor’s report showed a high level of alcohol in the driver’s blood. The driver, who was said to be receiving be receiving treatment in a private hospital, according to sources, is the son of prominent traditional ruler in Lagos.
Some members of the Art Galleries Association of Nigeria (AGAN) explained that Inua left the National Museum, Onikan, venue of the Art Expo Lagos in the midnight after helping in the preparation for the event. He was expected to come back to be part of the opening.
After joining others in observing a minute silence in honour of the departed artist, during the opening of Art Expo Lagos, the minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Chief Edem Duke described Inua as an artist who has contributed immensely to the growth of Nigerian art. In fact, Duke disclosed that “ I have a lot of his works in my collections.”
The Director-General of National Gallery of Art (NGA), Abdullahi Muku and president of Art Galleries Association of Nigeria AGAN, Chief Frank Okonta said the death of Inua is a big loss to the visual arts profession.
In his last solo exhibition titled When Women Wail (WWW), held at Nike Art Gallery, Lekki, Lagos, Inua focused the ethno-religious crisis in Jos, Plateau State. The show exposes the vulnerability of women and children in moments of crisis.
Inua’s works are several public buildings in Lagos and Abuja, including the the National Assembly.
He was the CEO of Time Art Gallery, World Heritage Art Galleries Ltd, African Heritage Art Fairs, Rubbies Modeling Agency and Daniels Super Stores.
He was an executive member AGAN as Chairman Disciplinary / Welfare Committee.
He was born in Itu, Akwa Ibom State in April 1966. He graduated from Ahmadu Bello University Zaria (ABU) in 1987.
During his last solo exhibition, he stated:
“I am committed to fighting against the societal abuse of women and children, especially those in Africa. Recent religious conflicts and violence in Jos, Nigeria where helpless women and children were brutally massacred in their sleep only goes to show how vulnerable our women and children are during the senseless violence we witness often in our society.”
|Inua's mixed media Uyai shown at his last solo exhibition in Lagos, 2011|
With so much value in the African woman, Inua asked: “Why is the society hostile to these women?”
And as it appeared that When Women Wail (WWW) would not go into the visual details of the affected women of Jos, Inua stated that the show was just a teaser. “The main show on the subject holds later this year.”
Sadly, the artist never made it to continue his mission on women advocacy through art.
Despitr its figural rendition of contemporary women, Inua’s works are devoid of western elements, which most artists, sub-consciously imbibe, particularly when painting African women.
He depicts cultural nuances in its totality, as the anatomy, countenance and skin pigmentation truly represent the African woman.
Inua, to a very large extent, depicts everyday activities of the people, which make his work similar to regular artists next door; no pretext idealising the subject.
He argued, “an artist that exists among the people can’t pretend not to know the culture and value of his environment.”
Perhaps part of that cultural content is the sensuality of the female anatomy, which nearly every piece of his works depicts. This, he radiates in African Bride, a nude painting, which explains some ceremonial costuming of an unidentified culture in parts of the continent.
|The Gari Sellers, by Inua|
This, perhaps, explained his outing, two years ago, when he showed Africa Celebrates at the food courts of Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA-2). He always argued that art must not be confined within the formal gallery space. “Art should be taken to the people.”