Wednesday 25 July 2018

George's palettes escape through Fragments of Thoughts

From Wande George's 'Family Tie series, 'Brotherhood' (2015 36 x 36 inch)

Elongated figures in subtle application of cubism and quite some geometric rendition with mosaic texture paintings are artist, Wande George's interpretation of a nation seeking joy despite being held hostage by oddity. The paintings come on display as the artist's solo art exhibition titled
Fragments of Thoughts, showing from Saturday, July  28 - August 7, 2018 at Terra Kulture, Victoria Island, Lagos.

About six years into his post-advertising agency career, George returns to the exhibition circuit again after a last solo titled Naked Truth, shown at the same gallery in 2014.

Between the challenges of creating new works and sustaining an enduring signature, some artists are always stranded on the identity corridor of creativity. For, George, the diversity and eclectic emission in Fragments of Thoughts, not withstanding, his palettes have maintained a progression of
identity, so far.

Caught in the senseless killings across most parts of Nigeria, George's thoughts still find quite some beauty and joyful moods within. He groups his Fragments of Thoughts into 'Women and Beauty',
'Family Ties' and Political Commentary'.
 His visual delights include series such as 'Gele', which the artist describes as "pride identity of African women"; and 'Eye Witness', which spotlights family value as well as nuances of a growing urban.

Capturing the social life of a people laced with ever trending poetic sobriquets, George digs into some familiar kind of 'gele' (native Yoruba head wears) styles such as 'Onile Gogoro', 'Onta Wire', 'Joy', 'Oge', even as recent as 'Madam Kofo'. One might question how much the artist knows about various 'gele' styles, but his visual expression of each on canvas, no doubt, confirm that indeed, tying or moulding of the native headdress is an art that requires special skills.

Between his last solo, Naked Truth and currently, George's stylised and elongated rendition of figures differs slightly. With a shrunk size, though still elongated, in Fragments of Thoughts, the artist's cubism characteristic is better appropriated, particularly making the figures come alive off the canvas.

For those who appreciate mosaic texture of art, particularly on canvas, George has quite a variety of forms. From direct to hidden forms, his application, also in  geometric techniques, enrich the abstraction part of the body of work.

In building works for the exhibition, spanning over a year, George has something else in thoughts. "I started with issue around children," he says during the preview few days ago. But he recalls getting "distracted by issues such as constant news of tragic events in Nigeria".

He, apparently, couldn't get enough mental strength to continue with the children's theme. And whatever would replace that, he thought should be something to brighthen the nation's mood. "However, I am looking at the positive sides of getting out of the bloodletting". He wouldn't need to stretch his search much in a country widely believed to be among the happiest people in the world. "Nigerians, they say, are happy people; inspite of all the challenges we face, there is still time to unwind, let down our hair and celebrate". He argues that such a very "colourful and resilient people" are worth celebrating. Apart from the 'gele' series, such other pieces that look at the people's social value include 'Eye Witness', series about family ties in the context of "witness to issues around us".

'The Embrace' (2018, acrylic on canvas, 48 x 48 inch).

Specifically on family values as it affects the general textures of behaviour across all spheres, the artist captures such in 'Brotherhood' and 'Home Alone' among others he sees as dwelling on "family ties'.
 On the political sphere, George, among other works in that context expresses his thoughts in 'Broken Promised', a highlight on lack of integrity; and 'Self-enthronment', about the arrogance of Nigeria's political class.

Curator at Terra Kulture, Ugonna Ibe-Ejiogu feels "excited by the theme", particularly "on a note of what's happening about women".

In a Gallery Statement, Joseph Umoibom captures the artist's consistency in aesthetics skill. "The consistency and dexterity with which the artist delivers his works is typical and undeniably unique and of course unpretentiously Wande George, giving us beauty to behold and provoke in a subtle unradical manner".

Excerpts from George's Artist Statement:
"My last solo exhibition titled Naked Truth in 2014 was focused on the state of our nation (Nigeria) and especially on political issues, that’s why issues of corruption, religious intolerance, cross carpeting from one political party to another, bullying and lack of respect for each other etc. dominated the body of works in that exhibition.
 "I have done my bit by just being obedient to the small still voice within that compelled me to put down my uncoordinated thoughts and more importantly to bring to the public notice these ‘fragments of my thoughts’ hoping that you will align at some point with my thoughts and experiences and celebrate those who should be celebrated and reach out to those around you, who needs a shoulder to lean on, because life is a passing phase".

Two of George's art exhibitions include Impressions of Life, a two-artist show with Jude Eseurhobo, at National Museum, Onikan, in 1990; and Reemergence, his first post-advertising agency career show with colleague, Kola Arifajogun, at Terra Kulture, in 2012.
 - Tajudeen Sowole.

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