Monday 24 March 2014

Return of exclusive contents artists, Uwatse, Adewuyi in 'Affinity'

By Tajudeen Sowole
Abstract expressionist painter, Chinwe Uwatse and sculptor, Kenny Adewuyi are not the regular in-your-face kind of artists.

A sculpture When You Are Down by Kenny Adewuyi
The rarity of their works has found a common ground in an exhibition titled Affinity, showing from March 24 to April 30, 2014 at the fledging art and luxury design space Temple Muse, Victoria, Lagos, with the support of Veuve Clicquot 

With about three decades career on the canvas, and a recently opened studio in South of France, Uwatse is no doubt a well-known artist, but uncommon on the art exhibition circuit of her home country.

Coincidentally, Adewuyi also has a studio in France, but now hopes for a base in Nigeria.  

A consistent passionate promoter of native content, Uwatse keeps stressing the importance of Uli signs and motifs of the Igbo women in contemporary artistic expression. Even in South of France where sea and the sky synergise to the attention of the artist's watercolor brush strokes, Uli still finds a space. In one of the works for the show, which she titles Still Waters, the artist described the scenery as "amazing chemistry of sky and sea," expressed in the native signs and symbols.

Uwatse, a restless feminist continue to push the cause of women as three-piece paintings: Center of the Universe, Giver of Life and Ladies of Leisure rove over the scientific and spiritual proves of women as the “holders of the universe.”

Apart from painting, Uwatse also expresses her creative thoughts via poetry, which, usually comes as supportive content in her past exhibitions. Her last solo exhibition Burdens We Bear stressed her passion about the challenges of women and questionable societal perception. For Affinity, the poem, which represents his Artist Statement, dwells on life within the general context.

Three out of Adewuyi's six solo exhibitions were held in France. His last in Nigeria was Times of Life, in 2004, at Maison de France, Ikoyi, Lagos. Clearly, it could take a long scratch on the Lagos art scene to come across a piece by Adewuyi. He works in forms of exaggerated representational figures, mostly in maquette sizes. 

Most interesting about his sculptures are the emphasis on the feet of the subjects. With the pyramid-like styles of form rendition in Adewuyi 's sculpture, a basement is usually eliminated, which gives full worth of the art content without any intrusion to support the erection of the figure.

Thematically, some of his works in Affinity are influenced by a stint with northern Nigeria as an undergraduate at Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria. For example, Destitute, a young man depicted in needy appearance, he said, represents his experience of the Almajiris indigents. More significantly, the work, created during his masters programme at ABU was one of the artist's pathfinders at a period of his crossroad between form and material. "It was one of my experiments on forms at ABU."

Chinwe Uwatse’s The Universe is Me from Affinity.
Although the 20th century Italian sculptor, Alberto Giacometti's style immediately comes to mind seeing Adewuyi's work, the difference is the Nigerian's style of diminished-top and emphasised-base.  Quite of masterly touch among Adewuyi's works for Affinity is a seated figure When You Are Down

Every artist has a story of license into creative freedom to tell. For Adewuyi's journey into highly stylised figures, his inability to pay models for sculptures in the early period of his career offered the elongated forms option. "Because I could not afford to pay models for real figure sculpturing during my masters degree programme, I subconsciously chose elongation and exaggeration forms," the artist explained during a preview.

In his Artist Statement, Adewuyi reflected on what he described as his imploring of “exaggeration and elongation of the human figure to best portray and express my inner feelings about the subjects that I often see in my environment.”

In poetry, Uwatse’s Artist Statement urged her “people” to change from false to reality.  “What should you do 
To move beyond false notions
Odd potions To reach perpetual and real motion...”

The curator, Sandra Obiago-Mbanefo noted that the artists’ exhibition of 16 sculptures and 24 watercolors that are rarely seen in the country falls in line with the exclusivity of the luxury designs items in Temple Muse.

For the venue’s Artistic Director Avi Wadhwani, it’s  a great delight “that Adewuyi and Uwatse’s amazing works are kicking off our artistic season this year.”

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