It took a lecture, delivered by African art scholar, Prof. Perkin Foss during one of the Harmattan Workshops at Agbar Otto, Delta State, for young sculptor, Phillips Lexie Nzekwe Okai to be alerted on the possibility of the extinction of his mother tongue.
Bringing that experience to bear on his work, Okai decided to strengthen African values and culture as he showcases sculptures and few paintings in his debut solo exhibition titled ‘Perspective’, at Quintessence Gallery Falomo, Lagos. The show opens tomorrow and runs till June 30, 2012.
The curator of Quintessence Gallery, Moses Ohiomokhare stated that the artist’s desire to
advance the creation and understanding of sculpture and its unique contribution to society is central to the exhibition.
He noted that Okai has produced an “array of sculptural pieces that represent the passion, love, agitation, outburst and agonies of our people. His works are semi-abstract of the human figures, landscapes, and animals. In these you find a lot of intellectual pondering thrown into the works. You also see the desire to expand our understanding and appreciate the subject matter even as the artist draws his energy from a supportive environment. The works are in two and three dimensions in wood and mixed media.”
For better understanding of the themes, Okai has segmented the show into three parts such as In The Pageant series, The Mood and The Re-Enactment. He disclosed that “In The Pageant I and II are rites and festivals in exaggerated forms, which inform us about our way of life in the past and present; The Mood forms represent the economic woes the nation currently being faces; and The Re-Enactment Series pursues the need for us to reconstruct our world. In all his works, you cannot fail to recognise his signature forms.
Ohiomokhare explained that the concave forms in his works are an expression of the past, the convex represents the present and the void or hollow represents the future, which is expressive of time to come and the likelihood of future success.
He recalled how Quintessence had followed the artist’s steady progress since his participation in a group exhibition by doctoral students of Delta State University (DELSU), Abraka Group of Artists at Quintessence last year. “We have observed that his art continues to document “the constant movement and expressions of humanity in his environment”, in his attempt to offer solutions to the problems of society.”
Currently the chief resident sculptor of Akademik Studios of Arts in Asaba, Okai is doing a doctorate programme in Studio (sculpture) at Delta State University, Abraka. He derives his influence from one of the world’s most celebrated English sculptors, Henry Spencer Moore, who was best known for his semi-abstract monumental bronze sculptures. Henry said in one of his quotes that “the creative habit is like a drug. The particular obsession changes, but the excitement, the thrill of your creation lasts.”
Okai’s well-organised forms appeal to your faculty of sight, imagination and emotions and art critics and admirers of art will find out that a great sculptor is indeed emerging in our continent.
The gallery is excited about his works and “trust that our appreciation of sculpture will increase. We must recognise that sculpture is one of the greatest contributions of visual art Nigerians have offered the world”.