Sunday 6 September 2015

Ogbebor Finds Colours of A Missing Link in Environmental Challenges

By Tajudeen Sowole
Connecting with his ancestral Benin roots of profound artistic tradition, Enotie Ogbebor brings the spirit of bronze casting identity onto the realm of painting as a mirror in promoting environmental friendliness. The artist, who is currently base in Benin, is, however, heading out of the city to share his thoughts via documentation of managing challenges of the environment. 

The Light Beckons by Enotie Ogbebor

Title Colours of A Missing Link, Ogbebor displays his skill of combined Edo and contemporary painting at a solo exhibition, which opens from September 10 through 14, 2015 at Thought Pyramid Art Centre, Wuse-2, FCT, Abuja. Using his art to promote environmental friendliness is not exactly a new focus for Ogbebor. Recall that in 2007 he made a debut solo art exhibition titled Eclectic Treasure, at Terra Kulture, Victoria Island, Lagos.

"The theme highlights the need for all of us to take care of the environment and of one another," Ogbebor explains his thoughts on the Abuja exhibition.  "This starts with everyone rediscovering a sense of beauty and making our thoughts, words and deeds beautiful so we can achieve decent development."
Still retaining the identity of a texturised or impasto canvas, some of the works available for preview, indeed, challenges the people's commitment to their environment. Also, inconsistence of governments at all levels is a factor in retrogressive environment.

For example ‘Bullish Market,’ depicting a typical disorganised and informal trading district in most parts of Nigeria, particularly Lagos, with so much pressure mounted on the weak environment and dwindling resources. A sea of traders, mostly on the roads as well as lawless commercial bus drivers in Lagos as seen in ‘Bullshit Market’ brings to mind the need to revisit a much-celebrated achievement of the previous government of Babatunde Fashola.

In the last one year towards the elections till date, almost every laudable development gained - in environmental management during the eight years of Fashola is currently in reverse. Indeed, it has amounted to a share waste of resources as the new government of Akinwunmi Ambode might have to spend extra resources to recover what has been undone in the next four or eight years. As an artist, merely spotlighting the challenges of the environment may not be enough, as ‘The Light Beckons’ suggests respite of sorts.

 Excerpts from Ogbebor's Artist Statement says,

"The works are highly textured ala impasto, more like reliefs. This technique, coupled with the plaque-like perspectives, are a tribute to my Benin roots particularly the Igun bronze casters which forms part of my ancestry

"Included are the missing link series which showcase Benin Culture and poses the question:  What would have happened to our civilisation if the British did not invade Benin Kingdom? What would have happened to the transfer of skills within the Guilds of Ancient Benin Kingdom? Will the works, which now occupy various museums abroad, have inspired a new generation?  How do we get the lost skills and work ethic of our forebears back?

 "As a Nigerian, what lessons can we draw from the arduous meticulousness of our ancestors regardless of tribe?  How do we showcase these works and that of several cultures in Nigeria because of the humanising effect of Art? The reorientation Nigeria needs can be achieved through the widespread exposure to the arts."

When Ogbebor had his debut solo in 2007, the artist explained his choice of not expressing himself in bronze casting tradition of The Benin, noting, "I have found love in painting; the medium does not really matter”.

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