By Tajudeen Sowole
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
BASICALLY, the strength of an artist lies in the ability to have control over a chosen medium as well as the depth of intellectuality invested.
These and other factors, which make some art exhibitions stand out would be the attraction when the solo show of Enuma Chukwu titled, Colors of Love and Other Colors opens this Friday, November 7, through 17, 2008 at Didi Museum, Victoria Island, Lagos.
On the artist's choice of medium, the preview showed how versatile he is as a mixed media artist as his fluidity in such medium like gouache and water-colour is replicated in oil and other genres. For example, the lines, shades and light that give watercolour pieces such as A Minute Before the Rain, Paternal Hug, Alone With Music-2 and Under Cover an exciting look are not missing in the gouache, Match Making, Blind Date, Tangle and For His Ears Only.
Between the oil works and the mixed media comes a radiation of synergy that almost places the former on the same dimensionality with the relief posture of the latter. Whatever the mixed media such as the The Hunter, It Takes Two To Tango and Under Cover boast of, in dimensionality, oil works like The Sun, The City and The Man also have in depth and illusion of relief. One of the oil pieces, The Sun, The City and The Man reminds one of a frame from print of a 3D movie viewed without the cinema lens to normalise the picture when projected onto the screen. Another angle to the striking depth of this piece is that the artist, consciously or otherwise, imbibes the depth of field rule, a sacrosanct tradition in photography, which he has brought into painting.
More striking is that the eclectic of the exhibits is coming from one artist and in a solo exhibition for that matter.
And while one's focus is on the intellectual input of Chukwu, it suddenly occurs that beneath this effort, lies the spiritual flavour from which the artist must have gained quite a lot of guidance. From the faith perspective in the title pieces, Colour of Love 1 and 2, to the biological context in the mixed media Echi, wild life and nature in the gouache, Rising With The Sun, the thought of the artist on his choice of theme could be detected. This revelation is more prominent in the water colour work Love at First Sight.
Apparently, no love can be as colourful as the depiction, in Love at First Sight, a capture of a couple in a quiet joy looking into the eyes of their new born baby!
An artist who professes great belief in the ultimate love-the Almighty God- Enuma's impression of what Jesus Christ stands for as depicted in the series, Colour of Love 1 and 2 appears to be the only option left for him to quench his thirst and passion for love.
He explains: "The Bible passage that most influenced my title paintings is John 15:13 'Greater love has no one than this. Than to lay down his life for his friends." If the Bible says no greater love, it simply means that it is the greatest demonstration of love. Bearing that in mind I decided to splash my canvas and paper in red in representation of blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than the blood of Abel. Hebrews 12: 24."
At a certain point in an artist's journey to maturity, some developments play crucial roles in the eventual hatched of the artist. For Chukwu, an Ahmadu Bello University, ABU, Zaria trained artist, he is however humble enough to admit that outside his alma mater, there exists an influence, even as a student. He recalls that between 1986 and 89 when he had his B.A (Hons) in Industrial Design at ABU, he used to visit the department of art of Institute of Management and Technology, IMT, Enugu whenever he had the chance to come home.
During such visits, he would get involved with the art students, and in the process got to know the renowned mixed media artist and teacher, Nsikak Essien.
While he would not take any credit away from his teachers like Jerry Buhari and others at ABU, Essien, Chukwu says, is a key figure in his love for mixed media.
With three solo shows and about five group exhibitions to his credit, Chukwu is one artist of the Industrial Design breed who has resolved to be different: his work would stand shoulder to shoulder with artists of painting and sculpture specialties, if a comparative situation arises.