Sunday 15 September 2019

Across painting, printmaking, photography duality of Amah’s 'Facets and Phases' blossoms

 'Circle of Life 1-Hope',
(acrylic on canvas, 121cm x152, 2016), by Timipre Amah Wllis Amah.
Geometric painting renditions, photography captures of aquatic sceneries and textured canvas of other depictions in printmaking are artist, Timipre Willis Amah’s window in expressing the duality of life.

The paintings, which emit embossed-effect, represent what the artist described as “equanimity” while the photographs, mostly in monochromatic tones, exude the imbalance wing of nature's duality. In the printmaking part of the exhibition, Amah presents "studies' of the painting and photography.

This coalescence of painting, photography and printmaking titled Facets and Phases, showing from September 21 - 28, 2019 at Thought Pyramid, Ikoyi, Lagos, returns Amah to the exhibition circuit - in solo context after nine-year-break. In 2010, his debut solo exhibition titled Tranquil Luminous, which, held at the Bayelsa State Government House, exposed the beauty in landscape, hidden under the tragic narratives of Niger Delta environmental crisis. In the same year of his debut solo, Amah won First prize of The Omoba Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon Art Foundation (OYASAF) National Photography Competition.

For Facets and Phases, of note, among others, are ‘Circle of Life’, in series such as ‘End of Time’, ‘Grounding’, Hope and Maturity. In some of the series, the artist’s spiral-effect technique of geometric forms boost the optical illusion texture of the paintings. This much is more pronounced, for example, in 'Circle of Life 1-Hope' and 'Circle of Life –Grounding', dated 2017 and 2016 respectively. Further underscoring the respite characteristics of the painting side of the dual themes are 'Optimism' series, a set of pieces that radiate calmness, in the cluster of cubic shapes.

Though in black and white, the photography pieces such as the 'Bond' series on Niger and Third Mainland bridges bring into the public space hidden treasures of some national road monument infrastructures. The capture angles of Amah’s camera, which celebrates daylight photography, also excavates depth of tourism prospect buried in the sceneries. For examples, 'Bond -4 Third Mainland Bridge' and 'Bond-5 Third Mainland Bridge', taken from sailing eye level and long angle shots, takes one under the 11.8 km long bridge with ecstatic range into the infinity of the skyline. Stressing the critical appreciation of monochromatic capture in photography is a night skyline titled 'CMS-Lagos', which generates a contrast with 21st centurt architecture structures Breaking Boundaries-Eko Atlantic.

Relating his art to the environment in which he practises, Willlis said the exhibition takes a view “into my world, traversing through my fine art black and white photography, hard edge painting and printmaking.”

As an artist whose photography experience is caught between the analogue and digital age, some of the old techniques still come into his focal point, so suggests quite a list of works. “I have used the oldest method of photography (long exposure) to reinterpret a mundane scene to an imaginative one through the reshaping of light using the photography drawing (PhD) method.” As a photographer whose lens is passionate about daylight themes, the natural source of ilumination is the heartbeat of his photography. “ Light is the essence in my photographs; the rhythm of light on my subject creates mood and emotion through the surrealistic feeling that comes with long exposure mostly with absent of the human figure as it invokes tranquillity.”

Across printmaking medium such as additive plastograph and viscosity, Amah's versatility as an artist is further flaunted.  Mostly of semi-monochromatic, but textured differently in a family of printmaking, some of the works such as
 ‘1/25 Aquatic Migration, 2015; Indifference (Additive Plastography), ‘1/25 The All Seeing Eye, 2019; and  ‘Circle of Life 4-End of Time’ series, among others, are the artist’s exchange studies with his painting and photography. He explained that “my paintings are also studies for my printmaking and vice versa” just as “some of my photographs are studies for my paintings.” He added that the exchange studies among his medium are “my way of interpreting an idea in different medium.”
'1/25 Aquatic Migration',
(additive plastography, 2015), by Amah Willis.

Amah,  a lecturer with the Department of Fine and Applied Arts, Niger Delta University, Wilberforce Island, Bayelsa State, shared his techniques, in theoretical contexts across the medium. “In my paintings and hand-pull prints, I have used the freedom and flexibility inherent in geometric shapes, lines and colours as building blocks to create the forms I engaged in my discursions.” He explained the simplicity of the factors involved as “striking and delicate but direct and significant.”

Bringing the exhibition into the discourse about values that people place on their society, Amah argued that it “underscored truth of our society.” He noted that quite a lot of “things we pay less attention to are salient in our wellbeing as members of a community.”

Born in 1969, Amah had his first degree in 1998 from the Federal University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, where he obtained a Ba.Ed specialising in graphics. He has MFA in Visual Communication Design from the University of Nigeria. He is a member of the Society of Nigerian Artists (SNA), the Visual Printmakers Association of Nigeria (VPAN) and the Art Council of the African Studies Association (ACASA). Amah has had a solo and participated in several local and international group art exhibitions. In 2014 Amah won First prize in the Boskel National Photo Contest in Port Harcourt, among other awards.
  -Tajudeen Sowole.

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