Saturday 17 March 2012

From the bone-collage, Archie-Abia etches new form


 POPULARLY known for his waste-recycling skill, the artist of bone-collage medium, Godwin Archie-Abia, finds a new expression in mixed media —paintings, cardboard and objects. This discovery, however, comes in two series: soft collage and simple painting, largely of abstract themes.

  Up-until-now, Archie-Abia used bones and cow horns as materials for creative expression. He cuts them into diverse themes and glues to a board.   
Migration and Refugee Question, a mixed media by Godwin Archie-Abia
   However, this new development, which he declared as ‘work in progress’, does not suggest that his 20 years relationship with the bone-collage medium will end soon.

  In the piece, Mbombo (Virgin Dancers), which looks at female circumcision in Efik culture, Archie-Abia highlights the bright and familiar shapes of his bone-collage, maybe subconsciously.

  The work depicts ladies who have just been circumcised, coming out of the ritual room. And to stress the blood letting of this ritual on canvas, there is a simple red spot beneath the work.

   While saying that female circumcision is a global issue, he argues that the innocence of the ladies in their dancing mood represents the dogged spirit of those who still stick to the practice tagged ‘genital mutilation’. In fact, the World Health Organisation (WHO) lists 28 countries as where the practice is still prevalent.


BETWEEN Archie-Abia’s rested bone-collage and the new creative form, there is a transition in the manner of expression.

  “It’s spiritual,” he disclosed. “After a deep reflection of my art, God revealed the new technique through a dream. It came the same way I got my inspiration for the bone medium.”

  He, however, noted that there had been a build-up to that, especially the challenged face in the area of constant power supply. Electricity, he said, “is crucial to powering the machine that cuts bones and cow horns.”

  Archie-Abia described this progression as going into the invisible to bring out a new medium to the visible.

   Migration and Refugee Question, one of abstract themes in his works, shows a sharp contrast between his old and new media of communication. Expressed in assemblage of diverse objects and motifs, the work radiates the aura of spiritual transition in creative adventure.
Godwin Achie-Abia

ARCHIE-ABIA is one the few artists who combine studio art with gallery business. Though he has been doing this in his Win Arc Gallery for almost two decades, he is not satisfied with the entrepreneurship aspect of Nigerian art.

  He said government is not creating the right environment for the arts to thrive. He wondered, “how do we explain the fact that a lot of Nigerians import works of foreign artists into this country?”

  While chiding some of the big hotels for importing cheap foreign art, called on government to “place embargo on importation of foreign arts and encourage research on local arts materials.”

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