BY TAJUDEEN SOWOLE
Whatever Uche Uzorka did not ask his art teachers about the dynamics of creating an art piece, the artist is pouring out in his solo art show titled Line. Sign. Symbol, currently on till February 23, 2013 at African Artists Foundation (AAF), Ikoyi, Lagos.
Largely abstract, in a mixed of drawings, flavoured with subtle painting, which appears dominant in the ink on paper works, Uzorka's new body of work basically probes into the destination or terminality of lines in art form.
Uche Uzorka's Where There is A Fire (ink on paper)
Some of the works such as Where There Is A Fire, Galaxy II, Tell Me Who I Am and Orgasm explain the artist’s depth at creating art within the context of established and emerging motifs or symbols.
With Tell Me Who I Am, Uzorka delves into what could be described as his thought on identity crisis of people, who, in striving to belong to a trend, lose the essence and element of living. Populated with signs, except for stamp-like designs such as ‘continent’, ‘wall’ and ‘content’ all in caps, it’s of abstractive dominance.
Among the things that distort or brings misrepresentation of reality, which often make people lose their identity, is creativity, so suggests the artist.
From what he describes as ‘arrogance of adverts’, for example, which gets people to buy what they don’t really need, he notes is wastage from the deceit of the creative section of the Ad company.
If Uzorka’s motifs are covertly expressed, in faint visuals in some of the works, Orgasm, as simple as it appears is more explicit on the strength of line in making a form: the swimming of a skinned fish, towards the left of the canvas highlights the artist’s thought on what he describes as ‘mechanized’ life style of the people.
Like some artists, who, perhaps in their zeal to expand the space of thematic visuals, keep dragging art into the realm of mysticism and metaphysics, Uzorka’s work takes a leap in this direction, according to his approach to minimalism. Not exactly a new leap, as this much has been noticed in his joint assemblage with Chike Obeago, which earned the duo the top prize at the AAF/Nigeria Breweries-organised 2011 edition of the national art competition tagged, Documenting Changes In Our Nation. It was a product of 14-day workshop in Abraka, where all the 12 contestants were camped.
Whatever form his art has been, in his post-school periods, he seems to have missed drawing and paintings. So, Line. Sign. Symbol, he discloses, “is to get me back to panting, with ink.”
JUST in case anyone seeks an extensive engagement with Uzorka on his thought about creating art, his new body of work is backed up with quite a monologue. More interesting, perhaps in appreciating the artist’s curiosity as a student, he takes you back on a brief retrospection through his academic years.
“Through the process of working with lines, I prepare myself to accept the position where I realise that I have to relinquish the power of not being in total control.” And for being a little bit submissive, he says, “comes a benefit, which has led to a new way of learning to rhyme to a rhythm that is not entirely mine.”
Born in 1974, in Delta State, Nigeria, Uzorka graduated from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, majoring in painting in 2001.
His practice incorporates painting while his first solo show, Uche Uzorka: The Organic, was held in October 2012 at the Goethe Institut, Nigeria in association with the African Artists’ Foundation.