|One of Chidi Kwubiri's paintings at his Footprints exhibition, Nike Gallery, Lagos.|
By Yemi Olakitan
Chidi Kwubiri’s mixed media was the subject of attraction at the Nike Art Gallery in Lekki, Lagos recently. The solo art exhibition tagged ‘Footprints’ attracted art lovers across Lagos when it was officially opened to the public. The exhibition runs from October 30 to November 10, 2021 and opens 6pm daily.
Kwubiri is one of the renowned Nigerian artists who is based in Pulheim, near Cologne, Germany. Kwubiri is a creative artist driven by a desire to define his own paths, to create unique styles. Born in Umuahia, Abia State Nigeria, he studied Fine Art (Painting) at the Arts Academy of Duesseldorf with Professor A R Penck.
A statement by Dr. Kunle Adeyemi explains Kwubiri's works at the exhibition perfectly; ‘
"Creativity is not going into Arts schools to study Arts, not wearing crazy jeans, pants and tattered clothes, funny hat, bushy shabby hair and looking funny and stupid. It is the ability to make something new that does not exist before, to do things in a new way. When one stops doing the regular, stops to think outside the box and refuses to judge himself and end up creating something that stands out, that’s creativity. Creativity is when someone defiles the box of limitations or the regular. When flexibility exists in someone thinking and drive him away from the known to the unknown.’’
According to Dr. Adeyemi, this Creativity runs in Kwubiri’s arteries and veins. This is evident in his paintings, drawings and pictorial compositions. ‘‘It takes hard work, resilience, determination and dedication to take primed canvas, paints, found objects, pre conceived drawings, make beautiful paintings and then make humanity pay thousands of Euros, or Dollars for its value.’’ He said.
In Footprints, Kwubiri, the award winning artist takes himself out of the ordinary levels, to chart a new path of highly unique paintings.
In a chat, Kwubiri said, ‘it took me about three years to fine tune my craft. I kept working at it. There is a voice within me that kept telling me it could be done. That voice says: 'go out there and do something different. Create your own style. Do not follow the general flow. Get out of that and create your own. If you are imitating someone else’s style, what you are doing is that you are promoting the person and doing a disservice to your own talents.' Communication is a two-way thing. A lot of artists want to create art that pleases them. That is good but a great art must please himself and the audience alike. Your art must come across to the other person. It must communicate to them.’’
Speaking further, Kwubiri said, he was born without formal education, growing up at Umuahia, Igboland. He encouraged young people to work hard and never give up their dreams.
Kwubiri said, he does not have public holidays. ‘I work every day. There is an inspiration to create something new on a daily basis. That's the secret,’’ he said.
Kwubiri does exhibitions in Paris, New York, South Africa, the United States of America and regularly comes to Nigeria for shows.
He called on Nigerian government to engage the youths. According to him, ‘in the developed nations, there are grants, special funding, different programs and various opportunities for young people to discover their paths and be positively engaged. It is not so in Nigeria. The Federal Government must rise to the occasion and provide the same enabling environment for young artists to excel.’’
The Award Winning artist also had pictures with his collectors, visitors and media men at the show.
According to him, his sources of inspirations are his culture, people, music playlists, sweet hot Egusi soup, and.his mood at the time of creating a piece of art work. His theme revolves around nature, universal existence and brotherhood, hope, contemplation, reflection, cohesion, diversity and unity, compassion, kindness and human interactions with one another.
According to Dr. Adeyemi in the catalogue, "Chidi in his works can be seemingly described as a missionary, journalist, teacher, historian and philosopher. Footprints is an admixture of his artworks.’
Mrs. Nike Davieskundaye said, ‘Nike Arts Gallery will always be opened to the best of Nigerian arts at every point in time. She said, ‘‘Chidi is one of such artists that we cannot help but partner with. He has distinguished himself. He is an accomplished artist that we love to identify with at any time. ‘’
Mrs. Okundaye is the Head of the Nike Arts Gallery, the largest privately owned gallery in Africa, according to reports.
One of the visitors at the exhibition, Funsho Folorunsho said he was awe-struck by Chidi’s works. He said, ‘‘he is so unique, magical and colorful. I am very proud to be called a Nigerian because of people like Chidi Kwubiri. He has taken art to a new dimension of life. His works evokes joy and hope in anyone. It’s anyone’s delight any time. He is such a genius and I am happy that he has not forgotten Nigeria. You know, an internationally acclaimed artist who is doing shows in different parts of the world can easily forget home but he doesn’t. He comes to Nigeria to do what he does abroad. I am so proud of him. Another point is his humility. You cannot miss that when you meet him. He never let his achievements get into his head.’’
Some of the works exhibited in acrylic on canvas are: Nwa Ada (2021), In conversation (2019), No Cry (2008), Childhood 11 (2007), Son of a Legend (2021), Talk in tongues, (2021), Transcendence 2020, Community, (2021), Local Champion (2020), Drawn Together (2021), invocation 11 (200, From a Distance 1&2 , Hero (2018), Unknown (2018) and Queen1, II & III, (2014), among others.
Charles Blanchard, Sales and Marketing Manager of GDN Nigeria Limited, makers of Mouton Cadet, Bordeaux Wines, said ‘’the exhibition was part of his company’s collaborative efforts with the Nike Arts Gallery to support and promote visual Arts in Nigeria. He added: ‘‘The making of a piece of painting or sculpture reminds us of the making of a bottle of wine. It speaks ingenuity, beauty and passion. This is why we have decided to be part of the making of history in Nigerian arts. It is because we have something in common’’