By Tajudeen Sowole
Whatever level of control man has over unseen spiritual or metaphysics guidance in a given journey, may not be exactly known to science and spiritualists. But for artist, Geoffrey Arueyingho, who just had his second solo art exhibition, titled A Step Ahead at National Gallery of Art (NGA), Kuto, Abeokuta, Ogun State, the joy of berthing at a creative coast was worth the trajectory of a challenging journey.
|A Painting titled Things That Make Us Weep by Arueyingho|
When the artist had his first solo, Early Search, at the same venue last year, the focus was a stretched retrospective that celebrated resilient traditional form of art. More importantly, the exhibition soon served the dual process of an artist's expression, as well as documenting pre-digital medium of design-related art.
For A Step Ahead, expressed in Prints and Paintings, there seems to be more specifics, perhaps precision of rendition. An artist in progression from a period of searching is not in doubt with quite a number of paintingssuch as ‘Three Female Soothsayers,’ ‘Pandemonium,’ ‘Things That Make Us Weep,’ ‘Jilt,’ ‘Odd Romance,’ ‘The other side of Romance’ and ‘Dirge for a First Lady.’ Specifically, a populated canvas full of figures and a large facial form titled ‘Things That Make Us Weep’ resonates with the artist's impressionism and flexibility with brushings on canvas. Highlighted in blue hues with slight strokes of red, the central face, which has tears rolling down her cheek, must have been saddened by the swarming characters of figures around her. And why not? The state of the nation - not necessarily economic factor - but decadence of values - is perhaps, enough to jerk any concerned patriot's tears.
Arueyingho's A Step Ahead was expressed in prints such as ‘Why Worry Warri,’ ‘Visit of the Dreaded Ones,’ ‘Flood and Spillage,’ ‘Blood Bath,’ ‘The Soothsayers are Angry’ and ‘After the Blast.’
A second solo exhibition within one year, perhaps, could be taken for granted in relative terms and within the context of what was shown on each occasion. But Arueyingho noted that creating or assembling a body of work within such short period took the determination of a passionate artist and researcher.
"Taking a step is not always easy, especially when a toddler is trying to walk," the artist and teacher shared his experience. "At that time, walking connoted something laborious and uninteresting, until the art was accomplished. When proficiency of this activity is displayed, it is often done with joy and sometimes pride."
Indeed, what exactly was the rush of having two solo exhibitions within a year? "My debut solo art exhibition showed a variety of media and themes in my Early Search, but having searched, it has become necessary to compartmentalise my current art exhibition into prints and paintings."
WHEN he showed Early Search last year at The Art Gallery,Fine and Applied Arts Department, Federal College of Education,Abeokuta, Ogun State, Arueyingho had on display mixed media in wood cut, gouache, corals, deep etching, graphite, metal in relief, photography, lino-print, graphite and textile design. For example, ‘Self Portrait’ (1984) and ‘Ben’ (1985) indicated his portraiture style into non-regular renditions.
Between science and art, inter-changing of inspiration is not uncommon. The artist finds it in the sciences most remarkable achievement of the last century. Arueyingho started his Artist Statement with a 1969 quote of American Astronaut, Neil Armstrong: 'That’s one small step for man and one giant step for mankind,' and likened A Step Ahead to the travail of "a toddler trying to walk," noting that at such period "walking connoted something laborious and uninteresting, until the art was accomplished."
"When proficiency of this activity is displayed, it is often done with joy and sometimes pride.
"However, it may not be too easy to differentiate some prints from some paintings, because of their visual presentations. This step has enabled me interrogate our socio-political, economic and cultural imbalances that yearn for positive adjustments.
"My conviction is that though ‘it does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step’ (Jeremiah 10:23), man must work by expending his effort through distance, before some progress and influence could be made within and outside one’s immediate and remote environments. Hopefully then, I would have had new eyes, which are the benefits of real voyage of discovery."