Saturday 2 November 2013

Uwadinma’s Aphorism of signs and motifs on spiritual adventure

By Tajudeen Sowole
On a morality note, young artist, Johnson Uwadinma makes a debut solo art exhibition titled Aphorism, which opens today ending12, November 2013 at Mydrim Gallery, Ikoyi Lagos Island.

In figural and abstracts with lots of motifs, Uwadinma’s painting challenges man’s responsibility towards peaceful co-existence as the artist hinges the theme of the exhibition on what he describes as “bringing to fore, the issue of immorality, lack of trust”. The artist, as young as he is, expresses concern “about the declining political, social and economic value in the country”.

Although the artist’s work is making the first prominent appearance in the public space, some of his works look very familiar. Aside the non-monochromatic look of his work, some of the figures as well as signs appear like images pulled out of a Ghanaian artist, Owusu Ankomah’s canvas.

From Johnson Uwadinma’s Aphorism, a painting titled Everone Has A Purpose

However, Uwadinma diffuses a possible identity issue by populating his work with cubes and applying colours as against the monochromatic and hues look of Ankomah.  The young artist also builds spiritual factors into his work. For example in Groping in the Dark, Uwadunma, graphically takes his subject in a cameo composite, placing the figure against a darkened background. He argues that no matter how knowledgeable man is “his dilemma comes” when a problem is beyond his powers.

With series Life is Full of Possibilities I and II, Uwadinma goes deeper into abstraction, using lines extensively to explain that no matter how confused a situation is there would always be a way out.  While Life is Full of Possibilities I offers an easier way out of the crosses of lines, II appears to represent the stronger challenges of life. However, a closer look indicates that indeed, there would always be a way out.

Quite of interest that the young artist proffers spiritual solutions to getting out of crisis; this much he stresses in a half figure piece titled Wisdom Elevates, just as he warns that “Wisdom is Better than Gold and Silver”.

From the diverse cultures and African traditional religions, artists have brought motifs and signs to engage contemporaneity. For Uwadinma, he has tapped “from Nsibidi”, the eastern Nigeria native art contents. But he agrees that in a global village, there is need to bring other signs, hence “I used non-African motifs too”.

Having been on the art scene since 2007 when he “started with impressionism”, Aphorism as his debut solo art exhibition, he recalls “has been in my plan since 2012”. Signs and motifs, he discloses “started featuring in my art since 2009”.

Indeed, the artist is proving that he has been looking forward to the show as he populates the Mydrim Art Gallery with as much as 80 paintings.

He assures that Aphorism will “offer visual narratives that implore a discourse on life and living” as well as “the dynamics of existence and the significance of truth and morality in man's earthly sojourn”.

Uwadinma’s bio states that he was born in Zaria, Kaduna State, Nigeria. He obtained a B.A in Fine Art and Design (Painting Major) and an MFA in Painting from the University of Port Harcourt in 2005 and 2013. He is a recipient of several awards including Chief Jubilee Owei Art Prize for Excellence and First Prize, NNPC/EPNL World Environment Day Art Competition.

He has participated in several exhibitions and has his works in private and public collection.

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