Sunday, 16 December 2012

Eze’s Head to Toe, assemblage glory for slippers


BY TAJUDEEN SOWOLE
THOUGH the artist Joseph Eze’s entry at the 2012 African Artists Foundation’s (AAF) national art competition missed the grand prize; he is, however, undaunted in his experimentation with mixed media and leveraging on the contest to move his art forward.

Traces of the mixed media he presented at the competition appeared like a central focus in his ongoing solo art show titled, Head To Toe: Re-interpreting Slippers, currently showing at Watersworth Gallery, Lekki Phase 1, Lagos.

Some of the works — paintings and mixed media — viewed via soft copies showed that Eze would not let go the footy theme, which first surfaced in his work at a solo show titled, Hyphen, last year, at the Nike Art Gallery, Lekki, Lagos.

The show was a sequel to his previous outing What They Did Not Teach Me In Art School, a sympathy for most artists’ post-training dilemma.

If Hyphen was about art professionalism and the pro-activeness of artists, Head to Toe: Re-interpreting Slippers challenges perception, urging viewers to open their minds and give the foot ears, as common as it is in domestic live of the people. The slippers theme as the artist notes dates back to about 12 years ago.
Joseph Eze's installation, Evictions
Eze says, “the show would be a success to him if viewers go home to take fresh look at their slippers.” His resolve to revisit the theme, he says, is an attempt to engage people in the potential of slippers and task viewers' preconceptions about a medium generally considered unsophisticated.
Embedded in the slippers are words that can only be decoded, perhaps, suggesting that the lower part of the human body is as important as upper part.
  
AESTHETICALLY, Eze’s assemblage, particularly the installation-like work titled Evictions tries to capture viewers’ attention as much as it struggles to compress the wide-angle view for easy assimilation.

Having established his art, over the years, in the regular and traditional painting, Eze sees his slippers theme as an escape from ‘somewhat creative stagnation’ of the art scene, where certain themes have become increasingly less attractive.

However, with the new body of work, Eze is not completely cut off from his past as seen in Profile With Bird, a portraiture of a lady in trance. This and other works stress the surreal characteristics in the artist’s figural renditions.

Between his first solo – Inside Of Me, held in 2002  – and his current experimentation in slippers, Eze has added his palette to the growing agitation against contemporary stagnation of Nigerian art.

Since 2002, when he graduated, he has been a studio artist for nine years, and in fact, made his debut appearance in a group show New Energies at Nimbus Art Centre and Mydrim Art Gallery, Ikoyi, Lagos, in 2001. That same year, at the yearly National Youth Culture Festival Delegation in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, he got the first position in drawing and second place in painting.

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