Sunday 19 January 2014

For Fashesin-Souza, personalised themes bring competitive edge

Lawyer, Catherine Fashesin-Souza who takes break from legal practice to paint, recently put her creativity to public test with a solo art exhibition titled The Best of Catherine Fashesin-Souza, held at  Didi Museum, Victoria Island, Lagos.

Though largely of personalized theme, some of the artist’s contents viewed via soft copies shortly before the show opened suggest that Fashesin-Souza has something for lovers of simple themes in Nigeria.

Not exactly an outsider to visual arts, having practised in the U.K for many years – getting a formal training in art after being a self-taught artist – her return to Nigeria comes with a kind of art that would have to define its patrons or struggle for attention in the crowded Lagos art scene. 

Catherine Fashesin-Souza’s The Kenyan Girl- the Naisai
But as every artist has to emphasise their strength, Fashesin-Souza’s ability to personalise her themes could just be all she needs, combined with a subtle style of painting. For example, the artist sees a similarity in what she describes as my “unsettledness,” and a scene from the Nigerian civil war captured by a photographer. This much she explains in the work titled Exodus, a painting inspired by similar image of people moving to an unknown place or wilderness after being displaced from their homes. Painted in monochrome and from a slight aerial view, it shows families – children, women guided by men - moving on a road path with loads. It’s a revisit of the damage caused by displacements during war or conflicts.

In Fashesin-Souza’s case, it’s about emotional displacement. She recalls how the work reminds her of “my unhappiness,” but adds “and my hope for a bright future.”

Still roving around the personalisation of the exhibition’s theme, she paints “my eyes” in to a portrait of an unidentified lady in the work titled The Kenyan Girl- the Naisai.

  One of the works The Landscape, also stresses the artist’s strength in modernism, a theme that some would argue in the Nigerian context as ‘facing the challenge and test of ‘conceptual’ or ‘contemporaneity.’  So long as the subjectivity of art prevails, an artist’s ability to defend a concept or content makes the difference in acceptability or appreciation.

She describes her art as “a combination of still life, landscape, abstract and portrait.” Largely, the inspirations for her works, she discloses “are from my emotions, environment and experiences.”

Fashesin-Souza’s bio suggests that she’s had an active moment on the art exhibition turf in the U.K. She studied law and got a City Guild training in painting. Her debut solo exhibition was at the Thames Gallery Grays Community Centre at Thurrock, London, in 2009; next one at the Afro Carribean Exhibition at the Shell Centre at Waterloo and on Strand street in Central London, 2011; during  Ariya Expo, at Hilton, Kensington, London also in 2011 and the last, ‘Art on the Rail’  a group one held during the 2012 Olympic games.

Currently practicing law in Nigeria, Fashesin-Souza’s bio says she obtained  Masters from University of Wales Cardiff in International Trade Law after working part-time at Hereward & Foster Solicitors at Canning Town, London.

After practicing as a self-taught artist, she enrolled in Rosetta Art Centre to Study Oil Painting Part-time, January 2011 I where she got  City Guilds Certificate in Oil painting with a distinction.
  Her quality as a self-taught artist was perhaps not in doubt prior to a formal training. “In all humility I won the 2nd Prize Award at the 1996 UNICEF Breast Feeding and Enlightenment Open Children’s Art Contest, which was initiated to commemorate the 1996 World Breast Feeding Week.”

A year before winning the UNICEF award, Fashesin-Souza had received the Best Fine Art student prize in Senior School for the year 1995 at Queens College Lagos, Nigeria.

Also, the artist’s passion extends to sharing her skills, particularly at workshops as well philantroppy. One of such activities included a workshop tagged Artlympics”.

held shortly before the 2012 summer Olympics Games, during “the Olympics torch marathon show at East Ham.”

Back in Nigeria and practicing law, privately, Fashesin-Souza’s compassion continues.  She assures that some proceeds from the sales of her just held exhibition “would got to a trust fund which could be used to sponsor persons with life threatening illnesses; for their maintenance and operations.”

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