By Japhet Alakam
After a successful hosting of one of the greatest photo exhibitions of the year tagged â€œPerspectives on Contemporary Nigerian Photography recently, the Ben Enwonwu Foundation (BEF) owners of Omenka Art Gallery again in its bid towards the promotion and appreciation of Modern African art penultimate week brought the visual art community togetherÂ for another excitingÂ exhibition by one of Nigeriaâ€™s outstanding contemporary artists, Alex Nwokolo titled Musing: an exhibition of recent paintings by Alex Nwokolo.
The event which started on 29th of November at the Foundationâ€™s Omenka Art Gallery in Ikoyi was opened by Chief Arthur Mbanefo CON,MFR, the Odu of Onitsha and Nigeriaâ€™s former permanent representative to the United Nations supported with the presence of other notable art patrons like Kolade Oshinowo, immediate past President, Society of Nigerian Artists, Oliver Enwonwu, current President ofÂ SNA, Braine Zijimans, Ann Fulgham, Mufu Onifade among others.
Alex Nwokolo is not a strange name in the art industry. He is one of the most recognizable names in Nigerian contemporary artÂ Â scene and is best known for his versatility and creativity. Over the past fifteen years, the Lagos born 1991 graduate of Auchi polytechnic who won the best students award at both ND and HND levels has successfully ran one of the leading art galleries and framing businesses in Lagos.
To his well acknowledged profile, he has also exhibited extensively in Nigeria and abroad. The recent exhibition tagged, Musing… according to the artist â€œis all about creating. It means looking deeper into the subject matter and trying to be creative not just doing things arbitrarily but doing it as it occurred to you from within. And that is the subject of this exhibition, no other title would have gone better for it at this moment than this.â€
The exhibition featured a collection of remarkable works in which Nwokolo tasked his ever-restless spirit. In the works, he incorporates newspaper cuttings and shins to transform even the most mundane themes into the most arresting, yet subtle imagery. The exhibition according to the artist showcased 26 works or products of the past ten months.
â€œThey are not things people have seen before, they are entirely new.â€says the artist who describes himself as an abstract expressionists adding thatÂ he uses all forms of medium from acrylic, oil, pastel and charcoal. Works on display at the exhibition included some spectacular mixed media works like: Stir my libido, â€˜Herd and Twilight,â€™ Red Light zone, Elemental,â€˜Tropicano(l 11), Classified, Power of a Woman, Broken Dreams and Forgive our Trespasses. Most of the works displayed highlighted Nwokoloâ€™s strength in pictorial depiction.
ForÂ example, in the work titled, Broken dreams , which he usedÂ acrylic, pastel and newspaper cuttings, the artist paints a picture of a woman that is troubled.
Speaking about Broken dreams, Nwokolo said that â€œit depends on your interpretation. It can be a broken heart, a broken dream or one who is disappointed in one way or the other.â€ On Stir the libido, â€œbasically it is a painting that has abstract figures of a woman. Sometimes they donâ€™t have hairs, sometimes they have. Women are chosen so that you can actually feel the libido. When you donâ€™t feel the libido you can not be moved.â€
In his artistâ€™s statement, Nwokolo explainedÂ that â€œpainting is an adventure which includes the willingness to take risks. It is also an expression of moods, individuality, personality and perhaps the intensity of the artist.â€
Continuing he added that â€œFor nearly a year I have remained unflinchingly committed to expressing my restlessness in order to evolve to the next level. Every day art brings about new and fresh challenges. I like challenges. When I dream it , I create it.â€
The exhibition according to Nwokolo is dedicated to Late Peter Areh and to those who seek love, but never find it.
In his openingÂ remarks at the occasion, the chairman of the event, Chief Arthur Mbanefo who is also a notableÂ collector praised Nwokolo for evolving what he called the artist identity. â€œNwokoloâ€ Mbanefo observed, â€œ as an artistÂ started with the Auchi Polytechnic style, but over the years he has demonstrated in his works great maturity.â€
According to him,â€ when you look at the works of an artist you would easily identify where he comes from. But for Alex Nwokolo despite passing through the Auchi Polytechnic he has thoroughlyÂ Â stamped himself out with his own special identity.â€
Abiodun Olaku, the Vice President of Guild of Fine Artists,Â GFA, described Nwokolo as an established brand in the highly competitive art market. According to him â€œ a privileged observation of Alexâ€™s remarkable evolution as a painter over the past 15 years tells me that we ainâ€™t seen nothing yet.â€
Ben Osaghe, a painter and former lecturer at Auchi Polytechnic also described the exhibition as â€œan expression of the innermost world of the artist, with those of artists with somewhat exasperating eccentricities.â€