By Tajudeen Sowole
Getting close to his 30 years in post-training practice, Osazuwa Osagie represents a section of his generation of artists immersed in the studio, but hoping to strengthen their influence as pioneers in the full-time studio profession.
It has been observed that some artists, among those who promoted full-time studio practice in the 1980s seemed to have, sub-consciously, withdrawn from the art exhibition circuits in the last one decade. Osagie, though is “fulfilled” in his nearly 30 years career, he apparently, is ready to engage the public stronger, more so that he intends to move into another stage of his art. And since last year when he had his solo art exhibition titled Views In Colours at the National Museum, Onikan, Lagos – after a very long break – he would not want to go back into another studio recluse, again.
Currently strengthening his studio practice and also freelancing as a cartoonist with a national daily, The Nation, Osazuwa stated that his “professional life” has been full of adventures with less breathing space such that a solo show had been in the plan for long, “but my busy practice made it impossible”.
Another solo is not exactly in view this year, but keeping in touch with the general public, he explained, is not all about exhibition, “but stepping into another phase of my art and updating the public”. “I have had a very busy professional life in nearly 30 years of practice, but it has happened so fast”. He recalled how an unsuccessful attempt was made at having a solo show few years ago. His busy studio schedules, he disclosed “made it impossible”. The unrealised show, he said, was planned to “mark his 25 years of my professional career”.
Being a cartoonist, perhaps, has filled the gap of direct touch with the art loving public, but not exactly enough to express himself fully an in having exhibition. This much he got with his last show. Building towards the 30th anniversary, he hoped to remain constant in the minds of his followers.
As an artist, particularly more engaged in portraiture and several other commissioned works, the experience in the past three decades, he said, remains invaluable. However, Osagie is looking forward to bringing all these to condense in his future art.
And for every stroke, shades and light of Osazuwa’s on canvas, there is a spiritual connection one of the works from his new period titled In Thought explains this as much as the subject epitomizes a faint line between joy and depression.
Clearly traditional form of painting, which Osagie is not likely to drop and join the growing converts of ‘cotemporary’ artists, has been facing some kind of systematic persecution in Nigeria, lately. But the strength of his themes, indeed, is in the commentary, so suggests works like Zulet a reclining posture captured during his undergraduate days at Auchi Polytechnic, Auchi, Edo State; and In Thought, a mood, highlighting reflective or decision making moment.
Reflecting on his seemingly long absence on the exhibition circuit, he argued that it was not exactly a complete break out. “I have participated in group shows home and abroad, even a solo in Ghana”.
He disagreed on constant exhibitions: “I think an artist should space exhibitions to create freshness”. But he admitted that, sometimes, “lined up of commissions” encroach into most artists’ planned exhibitions, hence the continue procrastinations.
An artist, he noted, should maximize his creative licence by spreading across the diverse areas of art. For him, inspiration in this direction came from two of his older colleagues. “Kenny Adamson and Prof dele jegede inspired me”. Adamson is arguably one of the leading artists on the field of commissioned jobs in Lagos, particularly, of public art while jegede was once a household name in newspaper cartooning. “It’s better to be an artist than a painter; meaning that I can be engaged in other creative areas”.
Osagie studied graduated at Auchi Polytechnic in 1984 and has since then been practicing in Lagos, except for a short break when he went to Ghana to experience the art scene of the former Gold Coast. He describes himself as “an Impressionist”