Friday 6 July 2012

How Nnubia defied the norms with Unlicensed

By Tajudeen Sowole
Relentless experimentations by generations of artists, over the centuries, which keep knocking down all the barriers of artistic expression, is a motivator in painter, Gerry Nnubia’s technique and style.
  The artist’s identity, which he describes as acrylic flow is the focus of his solo art exhibition titled Unlicensed, holding at Omenka Gallery, Ikoyi, Lagos from Friday, 7 till 22, July 2012.
  Although the theme of the show is clear enough about the philosophy of the artist, but his technique and style, indeed, challenge the basic rules in painting.
  At a preview Nnubia said the theme was deduced from his penchant for “something out of the norms, unconventional.” It’s an experimentation of “over 15 years,” he added.
Nnubia’s Age-Long Love, 2011 acrylic 91 x 92 cm
  Strictly a non-oil, watercolour or pastel medium, Nnubia’s acrylic flow technique first made its public appearance in 2006 at Elf/Total-sponsored group show tagged Diversity. With such a long period of adventure and search for an identity, Nnubia’s work surprisingly, is not in the realm of complex mixed media of wastes, objects and some odd assembles. The works appear so simple one would hardly notice anything uncommon or new. What is however curious about Nnubia’s style and technique is his rendition of painting without brush, palette knife, thumbing and any other tools. He disclosed that the process include “throwing colours on the canvas and guiding the movement to a conceptual form, “to get shapes and figures.”
   In abstraction such as Rage 2009 (acrylic on canvas, 90x90 cm) and others in non-figural forms, the technique is obvious, rendering slight and faint shapes of figures or objects. However, with other works of obvious figures such as Age-Long Love (2011 acrylic 91 x 92 cm) and The Diplomat (2012 acrylic on canvas), one’s curiousity increases, trying to probe into the artist’s claims of mere movements of colours on canvas without using any painting tool, even thumbing.
  It’s the evolution of his work, he stressed, recalling that he started with core abstraction “and now it’s evolving into figures and shapes.”
 Nnubia may not be interested in expressing nature in the naturalism context of artistic rendition, but thematically, he explores the beauty of his environment in plants, landscape, animals as well as human element such as family value.
 In Nnubia’s technique of acrylic flow, artists whose work are under probity by some seniour colleagues for ‘lacking in drawing skill’ might have an escape route. He disagreed, arguing that the “rudiment of drawing does not change, though you do not need to make a sketch; I do my sketches in my brain, not on papers or canvas.”
 The attractions, for the gallery is what the organizers of the show describe as “exploring the artist’s working methods; a unique acrylic flow technique, and product of hibernation and experimentation.”
  Luciano Uzuegbu of Omenka Gallery stated that Nnubia exudes  “a near-total disregard for licensed conventions and techniques of practice.” Such traces, he noted, are crucial to the tenets of modernism.
  Omenga Gallery argued that “whatever inspiration underlies his themes, the bold execution betrays a strong universal appeal in refusal of an ethnic framework.”
  Nubia recalled how as a child, he used to draw on the walls at home with charcoals from the kitchen, and sketched in the sands with sticks for the lack of proper art materials at his disposal shortly after the Nigerian Civil War in 1970.
  Nnubia studied Fine Art at the Institute of Management Technology (IMT) Enugu, where he was not only taught the fundamentals, but how to improvise to communicate meaning. He taught briefly at the Auchi Polytechnic in 1988 where he researched extensively on the use of colour in painting.

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