|Visitors during the exhibition.
FROM the recurring challenges facing Africa’s politics to its tottering economy, the artist Gabriel Jideonwor distils hope. In his solo show titled, Black Is Gold, held at Vivid Exclusive Art Gallery, Lekki, Lagos, he used paintings of eclectic expressions to celebrate Africa’s resilience.
Mostly in portrait and figurative styles, Jideonwor’s brushstrokes employs identity, values and characters to probe people’s situation. He is one of the dominant figures in the emerging generation of Nigerian artists of the last few years and he would rather rove his palettes over hope than regretful themes.
In paintings such as, Wisdom, Future, Focus, Moral Instructions series and My Heritage and others, he reveals an artist whose youthful visual narrative highlights progressive contents and also eager to see a change for the better in his immediate environment.
“As an artist I reflect on the urban African environment I live in and how this environment fits within the wider global context,” Jideonwor said in his Artist Statement. “It is a complex world full of conflicts, corruption, inequalities and contradictions.” He, however, noted, “it’s also a great world for its resilience, cheerful and courageous people, its community and family values of rich and diverse traditions, as well as vivid art, culture and beautiful nature.”
Being an African artist, he explained, his connection to the people’s “rich heritage and proud of being part of it.” However, the dark side of it, he lamented, “saddens me to observe the many issues of violence, discrimination and injustice happening in societies today.”
The artist argued that the issue is not about white or the West not inclined to Africa’s development. “It's not just the simple black against white racial picture, as these issues are suffered in our own black African communities as well. Each society has its own issues due to the way we interact with one another, based on greed or fear and distrust for the otherness we do not know. We all have an individual choice though to interact differently and shape societies differently tomorrow.”
He highlighted how his work seeks to explore the impact of human interactions in view of universal values, emotions and the need for dignity that connects all differences. His efforts include, revealing in a contemporary way the incredible richness of Africa’s heritage. “It aims to encourage curiosity and openness towards diversity, to nourish renewed awareness, understanding, self-confidence.”
|More visitors during Black Is Gold exhibition.
Vivid Gallery stated that Black is Gold is about the aims and struggles of humanity against conflict, violence, discrimination and injustice. The gallery noted that the need to fight and overcome those issues inspired Jideonwor into having the exhibition.
Excerpts from the Gallery Statement revealed, “everyone is part of this and need to take his own personal responsibility, struggling daily to make the right choices.
Black is Gold is encouraging people to never give up this struggle and keep aiming for achieving a better life in a better society. Black symbolizes the struggle we all go through in daily life, the set backs and negative experiences that shape our views and threaten to take away our hopes and dreams. The experiences that we have to overcome, only makes us come back stronger. Gold symbolizes the achievements we aim for, which we will accomplish if we continue our struggle with self-confidence and determination. Both are necessary and valued elements in this equation of life: if there is no struggle, there is no progress.”