By Prisca Duru
Diffusion, an exhibition of paintings and mixed media works by Promise Onali and Chibuike Uzoma, throws open the curatorial season in 2019, for SMO Contemporary Art.
With the support of Veuve Clicquot, the exhibition featuring 45 works, opens on March 30 and runs till May 17, 2019 at the Temple Muse Victoria Island, Lagos.
Diffusion takes a critical look at the evolution of consciousness and how our individual and communal identity is affected by history as well as socio-cultural evolution. Onali and Uzoma explore these fundamental issues from different angles of the artistic spectrum while employing diverse amazing painting techniques and use of materials.
They question our collective journey of emotional, spiritual and physical diffusion through time and space. Onali’s creative dexterity is hinged on a remarkable linear style and experimentation with wood, paper, fiber, metal, wire gauze, fabrics, polystyrene and a careful expressive rendition of colours which are a striking counterpoint to Uzoma’s deft, almost irreverent slashes and splashes of colour creating abstract scenes and portraits heavy with sub-text that reflects complex emotional mindscapes.
Cloak of Consciousness, From a Monkey to a flower, Satori vs Entropy, Evening Bloom, Tainted Perception 1 & 2, Millennials for Sale, etc, are some of the titles of works through which the duo engage the public on issues of synergy, change and a whole lot reflecting the theme of the exhibition.
“My technique is an ambiguous interplay of colours, fabrics, wire gauze, wood and a host of other unconventional materials which tell the stories of the human experience, using Africa’s consciousness evolution as a point of departure,” the 2007 fine art graduate of University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Onali said.
Onali added that: “As Nigeria passes through a drastic phase of economic and socio-political turmoil, my recent works interrogate how this new wind of change has affected the community in ways like emotions, passion, empathy, spirituality as well as other aspects of modern interpersonal relationships. These recent mixed media works pull the observer into a world of lineal complexity comprised of careful rendition of lines and swirls that evoke a certain sense of ambiguity.”
His use of diverse media to explore scientific questions such as the origin of evolution, is grounded in strong linearity and embryonic metaphors. His fascination with the expansion of individual and collective consciousness is evident in the subtle layers of his mixed media works.
ChibuikeUzoma, a multidisciplinary artist adept at painting, photography, drawing, and text, who graduated from the University of Benin in 2013 with a major in painting, references contemporary politics in Africa and the Diaspora and questions popular culture against the backdrop of global conflict. Uzoma creates visual poetry which reflects our universal struggle with identity in a fast changing universe. “I try to make images that express the basic and necessary elements of human experience: freedom, love, joy, possibility, hope, and even tragedy, “ he explained
Uzoma’s art process is organic, spontaneous, and conceptually-driven in which the paintings, drawings, and photographic performances develop in conversation with ideas and analysis. He often creates his artworks through the superimposition or overlaying of collage, stencils, stamps, prints and official documents.
His art projects are generally inspired by the fabric of everyday life and the relationship between humans and their immediate environment. He creates visual languages to portray narratives that modify common understandings of places and people. Usually taking reference from Nigeria, the African Diaspora, and the Global South, his artworks engage issues of contemporary politics, post-colonialism, migration, popular culture and themes related to religious and ethnic conflicts.
Commending the artists for their dexterity, exhibition curator, Sandra Mbanefo Obiago said: “Uzoma and Onali’s friendship and professional appreciation of each other’s different approaches to art is quite rare and refreshing.” She added that ”Onali’s exact, clinically scientific approach to painting and his commitment to the environment and scientific discovery is a wonderful contrast to Uzoma’s fluid, impulsive and exuberant style which stems from an intellectual curiosity influenced by thought leaders like Franz Fanon and Chinua Achebe.”