Thursday 10 May 2012


By Tajudeen Sowole
(First published in 2009)_
FROM Abuja to Lagos, young artist, Chika Aneke must have discovered the right formula as he continues to serialise his treasured theme.
  He calls it Breaking Boundaries, (Episode 1) and showed the  Lagos edition at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos, where he had on display paintings and mixed media.
And just last week, Aneke who is currently in preparation for his next outing, which comes up in the first quarter of next year, restated his commitment to continue with the series, adding that the episode two of the exhibition was uppermost on his mind.
  Breaking Boundaries (Episode 1) included paintings, and installations. For each of the genres, the artist did not hide his bias for the art form, Uli, a native expression of the people of the South-East. "It's a fusion of medium using an unconventional approach," Aneke stated during the show. 
Africa Leader's Summit by Chika Aneke

  Uli, he said, was a favourite choice "because it depicts Africa in its real sense, " and adds that his art is based on African value. This must have given birth to a toga as he describes himself a "Pan-African artist."
   This much was seen in one of the exhibits, a mixed media, African Leaders Summit, which had a line up of what represents the diverse people of the continent.
  In this collage, Aneke denounces the colonial heritage of identifying the people through flags in the nation state context. Rather, his concept of what represents the rich designs of various African origins was adapted to give the work originality.
  From the functional art pieces like settees, stools to other designs, Aneke's work takes one back to centuries. What has a young man in his 30s – in the age of the Internet – got to do with some primitive arts? "My art has much in common with the art of the caveman-they both posses magical property," he explained. This he had used to draw attention to more mind-boggling reality of today as he prides his art in having the "ability to subdue the pain and cries of African continent ravaged with war, poverty, drought and famine."
  Still on bringing back the past to bear with the reality of today, his thoughts on the Internet is explained using African motifs in the work titled World Wide Webb.
  On art and the public, the artist gave knocks to corporate bodies, who, in his opinion, lack commitment in CSR. Young and up-and-coming artists, he argued needs the support of the corporate world. For Breaking Boundaries' successful outing, Aneke gave kudos "to corporate support from, Addax Petroleum Development, MTN, Eko Hotel and Suites, CEDSI Nigeria, Oil and Gas Nigeria Limited, and Revilo Communication." 
Mixed media, Igba-Ukwu traditional marriage by Chika Aneke
   The dynamics of art leaves no artist barren these days just as most of them would rather play safe and avoid any risk. Aneke thought otherwise. "No man can fulfill his destiny by walking another's path. No man can lay claim to greatness by beating the already trodden and worn path. Through my work I search for my destiny away from the crippling syndrome of orthodoxy and conventional norms. I seek for change, innovation and renewal engendered by choice and originality."
  In another mixed media, Leave the Bandwagon (Swimming Against the Tide), the artist puts his philosophy in visual context
Chika Aneke
And in the visual arts scene where advancing age of an artist is a ticket to winning the elite-dominated art collecting class, Aneke, surprisingly is fast getting admirers at that pedestal as seen during the show.
  For his admirers who were not able to make the event, some critical analysis of the artist's work explains the potential buried in his art. Country Counsellor for Public Affairs, United States Consulate General in Nigeria, Mrs. Atim Eneida George stated during the Abuja show: "Chika's remarkable artistic expressions are much in evidence in his exhibit-Breaking Boundaries where he draws upon Africa's distinctive cultural software of proverbial wisdom, folklore and mythology to engage, educate and empower. Like the alchemists of old, Chika fires the imagination using the continent's rich and varied cultural hardware of wood, paper matte, cowries and color burning away the dross and revealing universal gifts of truth and beauty."
  Aneke is a graduate of Fine and Applied Arts, University of Nigeria, Nsukka. In addition to several group shows, he is a recipient of the prestigious Ford Foundation Artists Prize in 2006.

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