|Uche Uzorka with one of his works for the exhibition.
EMERGING from the backgrounds of critical art dissemination, three artists are engaging the public on what it takes to assert civic responsibility as Nigeria prepares for another general elections, next year.
Bob-Nosa Uwagboe, Uche Uzorka and Habeeb Andu are the exhibiting artists whose paintings and drawings pierce through everyone's conscience in the debate about rescuing Nigeria from further decline down the ladder of progression. Coined Twenty Twenty-Three, the artists' group exhibition, which is showing from April 30-May 21, 2022 at AMG Projects, 24 Rasheed Alaba Williams Street, off Admiralty Way, Lekki, Phase-1, Lagos, challenges every patriotic Nigerian to add value to their agitation for a better country. The artists, among other issues, are using their creative licence to engage art lovers on participatory democratic culture. With the exhibition, AMG Projects is also asserting its platform as a broad access to the art world for emerging artists and art leaders in Africa.
Uwagboe is an artist of versatile expressions whose work, early in his career, has led him to create Protest Art Studio, in Lagos. After picking a joint grand prize National Art Competition (NAC), in 2011, organised by African Artists Foundation (AAF), Uzorka launched his career into mainstream art circle with a solo exhibition titled Line. Sign. Symbol. For Andu, it's a steady progression as one of the new generation expressionists, having been mentored by late Ben Osaghae. Winning Art X Prize 2017 gave him an opportunity for his debut solo exhibition in 2018, from where his career took a new leap.
Among the artworks to be on display in the Twenty Twenty-Three exhibition are Uwagboe's stepping 'Forward' (acrylic spray paint on textured canvas, 137 x168cm); Andu's 'Is your friend (Checkpoint)' (acrylic and newspaper cut on canvas, 63 x 72 inches); and Uzorka's 'Desert Stations: The state of Austere' (acrylic on canvas).
In its gallery statement, AMG Projects noted how artists, across cultures were known to have contributed to issues that affect the socio-political directions of their environment. In Twenty Twenty-Three, Uwagboe, Andu and Uzorka, who have "well-documented history of pushing boundaries through work that is deeply rooted in activism" according to AMG, will answer quite a number of questions within the context of agitation towards a greater Nigeria. "The artists communicate their point of view about everything we are currently experiencing," including the drama of every four-year election cycle, among others.
Further more, AMG argued that art has the antecedence of not in love with elements of oppressive characters who survive on injustice and inequality. "The personal life and work of the artist transcends the individual and speaks to a larger audience by producing knowledge or simply raising awareness," curator, Jide Ogunsanya explained. "People shape the cultural systems that determine their lives and citizenship is defined by the creative use of one’s voice, body, mind, and ultimately, one’s vote." And adding practical value to activism, particularly at a period considered as most crucial "in our history,", the artists are calling on everyone to join them in Twenty Twenty-Three "to dig deeper, get inspired and find the courage to act: go and get your PVC."
Excerpts from AMG Project's Gallery Statement: "Best known for his iconic portrayal and depiction of controversial subjects in a satirical manner, Uwagboe’s art fearlessly defies conventional boundaries and political correctness. Through his work he continues to comment on a wide array of issues ranging from Human rights to elitism and the role of religion in the decay of modern day African societies.
"In a similar manner, Uzorka creates narratives that defines social issues. Using various media in his work, he explores the domino-effects from systemic breakdown. Politics, the environment, education and corruption are some of the recurring themes in his critically acclaimed body of work.
"Stemming largely from personal experience, Andu’s daring approach to creating emotionally charged imagery makes him an important commentator on the afflictions endured by Nigerians on a daily basis. Through a diverse array of mediums, he constantly shines the spotlight on topics from unemployment to police brutality while finding a way to connect the dots from one end to the other."
|Habeeb Andu and one of his paintings for the exhibition.
Bob-Nosa Uwagboe is a multidisciplinary artist and leader of the Protest Art Studio. Between 2000 and 2002 he studied with the famous Nigerian artist George Olisa Nwadiogbu at his Gon Art Studio in Lagos, where he developed an interest in creating monumental forms and use of colours as a visual strategy for stimulating strong emotion. He graduated from Auchi Polytechnic with a higher National Diploma in 2004, specializing in painting.
His group exhibitions include Beyond Figuration at Omenka Gallery, Lagos (2001), The Last Picture Show, Muson du Parti in Cameroon (2009), World Bank Art Exhibition Abuja (2013), and Breaking News at Art Twenty One in Lagos (2016). Art fairs include Art Basel Miami (2015) and Beiruit Art Fair, Lebanon (2017). In 2001 Bob showed solo for his Homme Libre exhibition at African Artist’s Foundation, Lagos. He had his first solo abroad in 2019, at OOA Gallery in Barcelona, followed by his solo exhibition ‘Transit’ in the National Museum in Gdansk Poland (2020). Uwagboe’s works can be found in many respectable public and private collections, both in Nigeria and abroad, and have been seen in different important exhibitions worldwide.
Uche Uzorka’s practice incorporates painting, collage, cutting and pasting, charcoal, and ink drawing to examine the processes of urban street culture. In 2011, Uzorka went on to win first place in the Nigerian National Art competition for his collaboration with Chike Obeagu.
His first solo exhibition, Uche Uzorka: The Organic show took place at the Goethe- Institut Nigeria in collaboration with African Artists Foundation, while his second solo: Line. Sign. Symbol, took place at the African Artists Foundation, Lagos.
Uzorka has engaged studio and research residencies at the African Artists Foundation The AAF Lagos 2011-2012, The African Art archive of the Iwalewa Haus Bayreuth Germany 2014 and 2015, and Savvy Contemporary, Berlin Germany 2014.
Habeeb Andu is a Visual Artist who was born in Lagos, Nigeria. He graduated with a Higher National Diploma (HND) in painting from Auchi Polytechnic in 2013 and won the ArtXLagos Prize in 2017.
He explores socio-political themes and draws inspiration from his environment. Andu was mentored by late artist Ben Osaghae, who greatly influenced his work and style as an abstract expressionist and mixed media artist.
Andu creates his bold art with a variety of discarded materials to create intricate works which address critical socio-economic issues. He had his first solo exhibition at the 2018 ArtXLagos Art Fair, and attended an Artist Residency at Retro Africa Gallery, Abuja, in 2019.
He has taken part in numerous group exhibitions including the Presidential Inauguration State Banquet, Abuja (2019), Cu-lture and Tradition: Same Experience, Different Local, Koppel Project Hive, London
(2018), Affordable Art Show, Mydrim Gallery, Lagos (2017), and Faces and Phases, Terra Kulture Gallery, Lagos (2015).
Andu has published a number of articles and explores intersectional themes related to classism, neo- colonialism, corruption, power dynamics, social injustice and poverty.