By Bridget Chiedu Onochie, Abuja
As life gradually returns to normal, activities in the arts and culture sector are also resurfacing. The past week saw the opening of another visual art show in the post-COVID-19 lockdown.
Titled, Arteste Palettes Project Season 7, the outing was jointly organised by the President, Society of Nigerian Artists (SNA), Chike Emembo, and his co-exhibitor, Ezekwesili Nnam.
At the opening ceremony held last Wednesday, Emembo explained the impact of COVID-19 on the art sector. According to him, Arteste Palettes Project is a travelling exhibition.
He noted that previous editions were open exhibitions that travelled from one location to another. However, the emergence of COVID-19 has constrained this year’s edition to a particular location.
Describing his works as collage, an act of bringing together pieces of materials including old newspapers to make a whole, Emembo featured 10 pieces or works at the opening but hoped to refresh the exhibition ground with additional 20 pieces in November.
Majority of Emembo’s paintings are human figures exploring themes of love, luxury, fate, and lust.
One unique feature of the entire works however is the embodiment of beauty and sophistication that bears witness to the creative ingenuity of both artists.
The painting of Emembo complements the metal sculptures and painting of Nnam, all lightening up the exhibition hall with beauty.
One of such human figure portraits belong to Emembo is titled, Stoop to Conquer – featuring a traditional titleholder wooing a lowly young girl. “The painting tries to explain the extent a man can go for love. Love has no level; it can occur between a king and a slave,” Emembo said.
Other works include Fear of Flying, Baptism, A Gift from God, Baptism 11, Jonny, and Caro.
While Fear of Flying makes a mockery of Christians who fail to positively impact humanity with their talents, Baptism looks at the other side of luxury. Using images of expensive motorcars, the artist insists on the need for big, expensive cars to go through metaphoric baptism so as to reduce their degree of injury to man and the environment.
“To stop them from all manners of pollution, there is a need for baptism. It includes stepping down the engine capacity to save the environment. That is baptism metaphorically.”
Though Jonny and Caro are two separate paintings, the artist decides to unite them in love. Through his magnifying lens, Jonny admires Caro, yet, maintains an indifferent posture while Caro struggles to get his attention by tainting towards him.
Ezekwesili has 12 pieces of works, mostly of a metal sculpture titled, Ajakubono Series. Ajakubono is the artist term to describe ‘waste to wealth’.
According to him, the stunning metal works were made out of condemned roofing sheets.
“When cutting and choosing materials, the material that is given the least attention or supposedly useless, most times, becomes more beautiful. It usually turns out to be one that generates much attention and impact than those adjourned very good.”
The artist added that the background concept is ‘up-cycling’, the other side of recycling – creative reuse of discarded aluminum roofing sheets.
Other works are paintings titled, Portrait of Joy 1 and 11. They are of 24-carat gemstones.
“It is about taking what is supposedly useless and merge with very precious materials such as gemstones and you have very beautiful works. “I was in an exciting mood when I produced the works,” he said.