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I use my painting to turn on light on people – Sam Ovraiti

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By Osa Mbonu-Amadi

One of Nigeria’s leading masters in painting, Sam Ovraiti, in a solo exhibition titled “Sam Ovraiti, Retrospective; Exposition of 36 Years Romance with the Language of Colors” is celebrating his 36 years of practice with a solo exhibition which began yesterday, Saturday, 6 April 2019.  The exhibition, which is showcasing Ovraiti’s 40 oil and pastel paintings at Alexis Gallery runs till Friday 19 April 2019. 

Explaining the bond he has with colors, especially with bright colors, Ovraiti says he uses his painting to turn the light on people. “I use colors that can give people peace, colors that can make people happy…painting for me has become particularly a color phenomenon, color becomes the primary intent for painting.

“When an artist does it all and well, different people become experts on different areas of his art. By this, there is a tendency to play down on the area they don’t have enough awareness. It begins with the press, sometimes the critic and the literature available at the point in time.”

For Ovraiti, no  one can contain the spirit of creativity and the revelation of chance, change and the path of the artist. “This is what account for the various forms and media you will see in this show. We must put all the parts together, and in one place, to be able to get a clearer picture of my art.

“The artist and his art is a product of his states, as his state keeps changing, so does Ovraiti’s art. Each state revolves around a form, art form which could run for as longas “my consciousness can stay in the state of awareness. I wake up to ideas, methods,media and experience them as l go.”

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Sam Ovraiti also has a deep sense of philosophy: “The reference point of my work always is to look at what is desired for a better community. You cannot remedy a negative condition by condemning it. Consequently, I do not fight what l detest. I present what l want –the goodness of the present, while looking positively to the goodness of the future…we are not a thing; neither are we a place. We are not a name, a stigma, a symbol oreven  the art we create. We are a spirit, and spirit  takes form as faith  responds toawareness, enlightenment and revealed intention. What l create at any point in time asan artist depends largely upon the level of presence and attention l direct to the ideas which runs through my mind. This means that diverse experience area addressed at anytime. All l do is respond and take action.”

Ovraiti is often described as a water-colorist, but he says, “as an artist, I am not my profession; I practice my profession. I am not a water-colorist; I practice watercolor painting.”

The Curator, founder &director of Alexis   Galleries, Patty Chidiac-Mastrogiannis,   says she has been chasing Ovraiti since 2011.”I have been wanting to buy his works, collect his works, showcase his works at Alexis Gallery. I finally have him here, and I’m very, very proud that I will showcase somebody like Ovraiti with so   much experience, such knowledge   of colors, such knowledge of painting. And he can paint with his eyes closed, that is how brilliant he is. We are pleased that someone like Ovraiti is showing in our space, marking his date and exhibiting his works to the public, likewise with other artists. Alexis Gallery is privileged  to host  Sam Ovraiti  after his last solo exhibition in 1998 – nobody should miss this show; this is one in a million exhibition.”

Veteran master artist , Prof.  Bruce Onobrakpeya was also quoted as saying he encountered Sam  Ovraiti when  he came to frame some of  his paintings at his  Ovuomaroro Gallery at Oloje street in Lagos. “His works then, mainly in watercolors, revealed a brilliant artist who had all the potential of a seasoned young artist, that was in 1993. A retrospective exhibition is a must for every artist who wants to move his art forward. It offers the artist an opportunity to retrace his creative steps in order to refresh and reposition his mind and imagination for new challenge.”

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The exhibition, according to Alexis Galleries , is in partnership with the  Little Sisters of the Poor, a home for the elderly located in Enugu. The home takes care of more than 65 elderly people who have no one else to turn to.

Little Sisters of the Poor was founded in France by Saint Jeanne Jugan who devoted her life to the care of the aged. Presently, they have 235 homes for the aged in 32 countries. Alexis Galleries will support this home with part of the proceeds from this exhibition.

Sam Ovraiti was born in 1961 at Zaria, Nigeria. He was educated at the famous Auchi Polytechnic, Auchi, Edo State, where he obtained a Higher National Diploma (HND) and at the University of Benin City (UNIBEN) where he earned a Master of Fine Art degree (MFA) in painting. He taught painting, drawing and illustration at the Auchi Polytechnic, from 1985 to 1993 and voluntarily moved on to pursue a full-time art practice with studios in Lagos.

His paintings have become famous for their  soothing colors and are loved by artists and collectors alike. The colors displayed in his paintings have almost magical effects on the feelings of art lovers.He has received numerous   academic and professional recognitions   and   awards. Among the most recent are   Nike Centre Award for Painter of theYear   2017; Chrisland Groups of Schools Art Legend Award (2017) and SNA Master Artist Award (2018).

He also looks closely at the everyday positive happening in the society. Ovraiti has handled on merit numerous art projects in Nigeria. He is widely exhibited and his works have found their ways into important collections like the National Council for Art and Craft.

Sam Ovraiti is a deep and philosophical artist with a passion in artistic collaborations, research and   experimentation, heightened by his long   term relationship with Prof. Bruce Onobrakpeya and the Harmattan workshop. He is a member of the Society of Nigerian Artists (SNA) andthe Guild of Professional Fine Artists of Nigeria (GFA).

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A patron of Watercolor Society, Nigeria, Sam Ovraiti has the ability to not control the medium he works with but instead tospeak the language of the medium, letting the medium dictate the artwork. The result is a purified, beautified reality.

Due to his outstanding excellence in art, a scholarship in  honor  of Sam  Ovraiti was set  up at the  famous Auchi Polytechnic from  where  he had graduated with   distinctions and several awards. He has   mounted several solo exhibitions and an extensive number of group shows in Nigeria, Europe and USA.

The exhibition is sponsored by Pepsi, Tiger, Mikano, Amarula, Delta Airline, Cobranet Internet Service Provider,   Wazobia TV, La Cave, Cool FM, ArtCafé and The Homestores Limited.

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