IN the last two decades, the painter Fidel Oyiogu has painted human figures on canvas in such a way that his style is easily recognised, even in a large collection. He calls this style oyiogunic, an elongation of figures, mostly in the dancing mood.
Though not unique to him because his loud curves have close resemblance to the ‘dance period’ of the late Ben Enwonwu, however, the bright colour hues and the thicker textures of Oyiogu’s canvas draw the line between his and the late master’s creations.
A lot of critics have, however, grouped Oyiogu’s style with other artists that are known for their ‘repetitive themes’.
The artist, however, appears unruffled and argues, “oyiogunic is an ideal painting.”
He says it is not exactly another movement in the ism context of post-Renaissance, but “my own style and technique may, in the future, has followers that could make it as popular as others given to us by the west.”
He strengthens his work with Uli motifs – native designs of the Igbo – as seen in the piece Achara Ugo, a work that derives much of its aesthetic from the traditional designs.
Spreading across the canvas, the beauty of this piece, surprisingly, is not really from the main image, a shadow-like dancing lady, rather it comes from the motifs on which the elongated and curved image is painted. .
In another piece he calls Perfect Beauty, Oyiogu’s stylised figures explain the peak of female attraction, as three women appear to be jostling for the prize of perfection.
For every 10 figural piece of the artist, nine, most likely are on feminine themes. What exactly is the attraction? He says it’s about promoting what he describes as the value of the society, from woman’s perspective.
“My painting reflects our values, the way we are, social life, religion, cultural heritage and the suffering of downtrodden masses.”
RECENTLY, Oyiogu took his campaign of promoting value to Terra Kulture, Victoria Island, Lagos where his oyiogunic, perhaps, made its first major solo art exhibition in the body of work titled Woman Forms and Desires.
He stresses that his painting reflects “our values,” and that “women are sun of any nation.”
His sympathy for women, is based on “men’s misunderstanding of the sincerity of women.” Women, he argues, are not interested in dominating men.
|One of Fidel's works, Perfect Beauty.|
The artist’s thoughts on women, perhaps is stressed more in the piece Freedom Dancers. Quite an ecstatic foursome of ladies: even in the stylized figures, the joy of being free of stress is not hidden in their faces and body movements. And as rich as this piece is, Oyiogu’s penchant for populating his canvas, living no breathing space to relax a viewer’s gaze almost disturbed clarity of Freedom Dancers, same for Perfect Beauty.
Not really opposed to western form or themes, but swallowing such in totality is not oyiogu’s idea of art. He discloses, “my frequent travels to Europe have afforded me an advantage to blend the western form with my well established style.”
OYIOGU trained at the Institute of Management and Technology, Enugu from 1980 to 1985, where he got Higher National Diploma (HND) in Fine and Applied Art (Painting Major).
In 1987, he was appointed the GM/Chief illustrators at ITMP Investments Limited, Apapa Lagos before moving to The Mail Newspapers as Senior Cartoonist / Illustrator – later in the year, till 1988. Oyiogu was also the pioneering Executive Cartoonist/illustrator at the Champion Newspapers, Lagos from 1988 to 1992.