|'Ma (Portrait of my Mother as a Spinster)' oil, oil stick on canvas, 121 cm x 106.5 cm, 2018, by Chibuike Uzoma.|
With focus on "consciousness", the artists set out for Diffusion, title of their ongoing art exhibition at Temple Muse, Victoria Island, Lagos. Onali's work, most often, exudes highly texturised canvas with subtle hues while Uzoma's boldness derives its strength from the loud side of colours.
Not exactly new to the Lagos art exhibition circuit, having shown in the city recently, Onali continues with his canvas if relief texture. In embossed application of mixed media, Onali takes contemporaneity to the realm where materials used on canvas speak in volumes.
And when he chooses to be less aggresive, his direct brush movements engage his subject in graphical tones. For Diffusion, he appears more loud in abstraction and subtly celebrates figurative expressions.
In works such as 'Satori vs Entropy', 'Incognito', among others, Onali's illustration tones energises the social sciences nature of the exhibition's theme. For example in 'Safari vs Entropy', the depth of visual presentation lifts the contrasting context in which the theme emerged.
The artist noted that a people with "the mentality of importation without productivity" creates imbalance that distorts the environment's healthy complementing of human value. "There has to be a balance to enhance our environment," the dreadlocks hair style artist told preview guests.
Still on consciousness as a key factor in the exhibition, Onali also dragged in his career as an axample. He noted that a movement from one state of consciousness to another, just like change in his studio location was informed by being conscious. "I started my career in Port Harcourt, but moved to Lagos," for better visibility. And now that he is in Lagos, the aggression on his canvas can't be ignored, so suggests materials such as wood, paper, fiber, metal, wire, fabrics and polystyrene, sometimes coalesced into one piece of work.
In a world where more news if tragedy are reported, almost every minutes with disturbing graphic pictures, perhaps the last thing one wants to see is an art exhibition wall full of provocative red dominance pieces. Uzoma's strokes for Diffusion seem to derive energy from red.
Paradoxically, the artist's thematic focus is on concerns for the shedding of blood across the world. He pondered over "the worth of human lives", given the large number of tragedif situations that occur across the world, almost daily.
Tracking some of the non-natural tragedies such as senseless killings, one of his works looks at The Challenge of Multiculturalism. The artist wondered why some people perpetrate hatred of others, which most often lead to conflict of wide dimension.
Still on the contrast that exists between his thematic focus and tone of his canvas, Uzoma explained that the loud colours on his canvas drives the message faster. "We have to be honest with the situation we found ourselves," argued Uzoma who is on his way to Yale University, U.S for a Masters of Fine Arts degree later this year. He insisted that his co ice of tones "records situation as it is." Another work of the artist exposes how he is "inspired by the way freedom is interpreted by different people."
|'Incognito' Acrylic on canvas, 4 ft x 4 ft, 2016, by Promise Onali,|
Supported by Veuve Clicquot, Diffusion is no doubt a meeting point for two sides to visual language. Most often, every curator's delight exists in the kind of combination that brought Onali and Uzoma together. As a curator, I realise that there are so much copying going on," Sandra Mbanefo Obiago noted. "But I think these artists are pushing up to new boundaries."
Excerpts from her curatorial note: “Onali’s exact, clinically scientific approach to painting and his commitment to the environment and scientific discovery is a wonderful contrast to Uzoma’s fluid, impulsive and exuberant style which stems from an intellectual curiosity influenced by thought leaders like Franz Fanon
and Chinua Achebe.
“Uzoma and Onali’s friendship and professional appreciation of each others’ different approaches to art is quite rare and refreshing.”
Onali (born 1982) studied Fine Art at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where he graduated with a degree in painting in 2007.
Uzoma (born 1992) graduated from the
University of Benin in 2013 with a major in painting.