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Relational Lines: The Disjunction of Sameness

To be included in this Exhibition with Anthea Epelle and Obinna Makata is exciting news. The title felt so like what I would use as the theme for one of my paintings! I chose to emphasize Line in my work while still a student in Nsukka in the 90s. The element of art took on another meaning for me as an undergrad in The Nsukka Uli School. In Uli traditional motifs, Line was tied to meaning in a visual interplay of language and idea.

I started researching the books in the Linguistics section of the university library about Language and Meaning. Seeing how traditional Uli was used as a sign language, I read more about the works of the neurologists Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. The writings of Freud was associated with the work of the Surrealists.

My use of line became personal- iconographic, suggestive, leading in various directions. As used by the curators of this exhibition Obida Obioha and Sunshine Alaibe (and in response to my work, in ways this post may not address) the word disjunction alludes to disunion, separation. There seem to be suggestions of an intent to address my practice, its place in current scholarly practice. The questions around origin, identity, and authenticity come to mind. The audacity of this exhibition, maybe its priority, is a sort of disruption in space.

I think back to one of the earliest essays written about me by Jess Castellote, a longtime friend and curator of Yemisi Shyllon Museum, Lagos. Jess described me (in his blog A View from My Corner) as a somewhat ‘invisible artist’ (my words). I have often preferred to work in solitude, hoping that my ideas will be less affected/influenced by popular trends in the arts. At the end of the day, I may stand alone. The extent to which I have been able to achieve this in my artistic practice is debatable. There are some exclusions in recent conversations that suggest that I am standing outside, somewhat self-induced.

This is the price for a restless migration. It is also about the disruption that happens in meetings between different cultures. I have to keep introducing myself as I travel. Fluctuation becomes an essence mastered by a nomadic native son. There is original creativity familiar with the energy from other spaces. Vernacular must veer towards foreign syllabic consonants for communication. Of course, my work has been affected. And yes, the world is more connected now than 20 years ago. I have met co-sojourners. Many of us live elsewhere. We fall into a gap that is, to say it mildly, disruptive of a developing system.

My view may not be shared by the other artists in this show, nor by the two curators of Oda Art Gallery. But I enjoy the works of the other two artists.

NB: My first meeting with Sunshine was like 4 years ago when she joined some curators to visit my art studio in Lekki. They asked some quite interesting questions about my artistic practice. Hopefully they will put out the text of that interview one day. I felt they understood what it is that the artist intends to do in society. That sole visit culminated to me being in this exhibition. I am grateful. It comes just days after ArtX Lagos. 

Relational Lines: The Disjunction of Sameness is open for viewing to the public till December 9, 2021 at Oda Art Gallery, 10 Samuel Manuwa Street, Victoria Island, Lagos. For enquiries: info@odaartgallery.com

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