Friday 28 September 2018

Return of 'Illumination' artists brightens Lagos art space

'Stimulus II', (oil on canvas), by Barry Nzennanya.

In two editions, a group gathering of artists initiated by Jonathan Ikpoza is   gradually becoming a ventilator for young artists. Debuted last year as art exhibition titled Illumination, the gathering returns, again, with ten artists whose works are spread across painting and sculpture.  

Ikpoza, Steve Ekpenisi, Kpodoh Michael, Agemo Francis Sewanu, Omon Sophia Igbinovia, Ojemekele Ighodalo, Nzennaya Barry Ikechukwu, Soile Olayinka, Raymond Right and Usman Semiu Alvin are the artists of Illuumination-2, showing from Saturday, September 29 - October 8, 2018, at Terra Kulture, Victoria Island, Lagos. Ekpenisi, Ikpoza and Kpodoh were among the ten artists of the maiden edition.

Ikpoza brings into the group, among other pieces a mixed media of oil, newspaper and charcoal on canvas titled 'Pure Soul-4'.
Veiled with what looks like a splash of white paint and illuminated by a spiritual source of light, the lone lady figure with mobile phone on her left hand still emits softness despite her masculine frame. However, the aesthetic strength of the work lies in the newspaper collage as a wrapper or sleeveless skirt for the lady. Ikpoza makes the best of the newspaper columns to generate some linear effects that enhance fabric contents of the impressionism painting.

As the only one showing sculptures in the gathering, Ekpenisi goes into native value for an analogy about integrity. This much, he depicts in a bull-like animal titled 'Oken anu ke we eson aza efan' (Humans affiliate with distinguished animals). "It's about emulating people of good character", the artist explains in the context of declining values in the society.

For Kpodoh, one of his works in the second gathering captures the innocence of children as seen in 'Ebiere', acrylic on  canvas. Sprinkled with motifs, the painting emits coalescence of purity and  beauty in the young girl.

Though showing in the Illumination group for the first time, the other artists are not strange to such gathering, particularly in Lagos, except for Semiu who makes his debut show in the city. Sewanu, an expressionist, applies figurative imageries in bold narrative form. In one of such paintings titled 'Electoral Officials', the artist captures the umpires that the public rates with suspicions rather than trust.  

In a shift from painting and three dimensional sculpture, the only female among the artists, Igbinovia injects her metal foil texture identity into the gathering.  She asserts her consistency in the metal foil with such works as 'Mother and Child', 'Orange Seller' and 'Sharon'.

Ighodalo, another  expressionist in the group comes with quite a number of figural depictions. But in simplified representation titled 'Ransom Expectation', his palette peeps into the den of kidnappers by highliting a iddling assault riffle and protruding hand holding a wrap of hemp.

Perhaps, the aggressive presence of realism, in recent years, on the Nigerian art space would not subside so soon as some observers have predicted. Olayinka has quite some rich paintings such as 'Sister's Will', 'Peace Within' and 'A Taste of Celebrity' that fall between realism and the hyper side of it. Again, Olayinka, like some artists in the hyperrealism race, flaunts his brushing skills in fluids on human skin.

Whoever likes digital texture may find 'Stimulus' series paintings by Ikechukwu interesting. Rendered in oil on canvas, the artist's style in lighting exudes covert cubism, even in their sensuous radiation.

Quite a balance curatorial contents for Illumination 2, so suggests the monochrome contributions by Right. Impressionnistic and stylised in his figurative approach, the artist, sometimes iconises objects and spotlises areas of focus with colours, drawing attention away from the general monochrome look of his works.

"Some of my colleagues that participated in the first show convinced me to be part of the second edition", Semiu states. "This is my first exhibition in Lagos after graduating in 2013/14 at Auchi Polytechnic". Some of Semiu's paintimgs include highly stylised such as 'My Story' and 'Spiral of Life'.

'Pure Soul 4' (oil, newspaper and charcoal on canvas by Jonathan Ikpoza.

"It's all about enlighening people, particularly using our art", Ekpenisi explains the Illumination theme. "The whole idea started with Ikpoza when we were in school, at Auchi Polytechnic in 2005".

Ikpoza holds Higher National Diploma in painting from Auchi Polytechnic, Auchi (2009). Apart from the Illumination series, Ikpoza is also the founder of The Ingenious Minds as well as a pioneering member of Araism Movement.
He is the Manager /CEO, Jonix Studios, based in Lagos, Nigeria.
-Tajudeen Sowole.

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