By Tajudeen Sowole
IN confronting challenges of under development across strata of human endavours, two Port Harcourt-based artists, Godwin Arikpo and Promise O'nali, appear to have found a “solution.” Though divided along genre and style contents, the two artists have common space in contextual narratives, as they suggest collective responsibility in the fight against agents of under development.
The shared-space opens for further expansion when the artists' exhibition titled, Shifting Horizon, goes public from April 23, 2016 at Quintessence Gallery, Parkview, Ikoyi, Lagos. The artists' idea of collective responsibility is not confined within the elitist characteristics of art appreciation; a workshop for school children, perhaps to drive the concept into the future is scheduled to accompany the exhibition,
Beyond the regular exhibition, Shifting Horizon, according to Arikpo, is an opportunity to give back to the society through charity. The artists are "donating 80 per cent of the proceeds to Eruobodo Homes, a centre being managed by Quintessence," O'nali adds.
Arikpo notes that in a country like Nigeria, where "governments keep failing" the ideal respite "should be a collective efforts towards consciousness, not just about the individuals."
O'nali, whose work is not new to the Lagos art scene, affirms his partner's perspective of collectiveness. "I thought of doing something for the generality of art lovers in Lagos," he says, adding that he owes the people something. In 2014, Quintessence gave him a platform to have his first contacts with the Lagos art scene in a solo, he recalls. "So, it's now shifting to those who needs the attention.”
In mixed media painting of cracked and collage-effect, Arikpo expresses his thoughts, mostly in portraiture, as he links fortune or the other side of it to natural forces. For examples, A Place In The Sky, Horizon of Expectation and Cosmic Love.
Stressing his thoughts on the abundance of nature, Arikpo employs light in A Place In The Sky to argue how "the piece indicates that no boundaries in the sky; religious, ethnic limits and so on."
Horizon of Expectation, he explains, is about the common adage that "everything lies within reach you and we don't need to go 360 degrees to get what we want."
For those who swim in individuality, Arikpo's Cosmic Love has a word of advice: "we should be nice enough to reach out to others."
With Shifting Horizon, O'nali continues from where he stopped the last time he showed at Quintessence. About two years ago, the artist showed Ije Uwa (Life's Trajectory), a theme that revisits debate over creation of the universe within the context of faiths and science, compared to other views.
His abstraction contents, against the curiosity of scientific curiousity is further strengthened in the two-artists exhibition with works such as Parallel Paradigm, Dimkpa (Matured Individual), The Best of Me and All King's Letter. In fact, O'nali states that science; specifically, "physics" is an inspiration in conceptualisng Parallel Paradigm.
Simplicity appears to be one of the challenges that could stunt O'nali's creative prospects. But he insists that he has been trying as much as possible to break his themes in simple contexts. "I try to simplify my work as much as possible," he argues.
Clearly an artist who grew up loving gadgets, his bio recalls early romance with science: 'used to love knowing how things work, always eager to disassemble electronics piece by piece just to know how they were put together. But above all, he loved drawing; it gave him a sense of purpose.'