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Karen: “Not good enough to be a pro”

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By Osa Mbonu-Amadi, Arts Editor

Three artists, Orlu Prince Ozangeobuoma, Karen Ogidi and Akinbanji Osanyemi are set to showcase their works at an exhibition titled Imaginativeness at Alexis Galleries, Akin Olugbade Street, off Idowu Martins, Victoria Island, Lagos. The exhibition opened last Saturday, May 18 and will run till May 25, 2019.

Karen Ogidi, of Nigerian and Turkish parentage, was born in Istanbul. She has a bachelor’s degree in English language and Literature from Eastern Mediterranean University in Cyprus in 2012. “This is the first time I am exhibiting in a public place,” she told Vanguard.  “I am very excited. I am happy that people are going to be seeing my works. I like seeing beautiful things, I like nature. I like to see people doing their own thing because I think there is beauty in being you. I like to capture people at that very moment when they are original when they are truly themselves. I also like landscapes.”

Karen says her works are based on real life sceneries, though due to her love for colours, she sometimes tries to enhance those real life sceneries with colours brighter than in real life.

“I didn’t go to any art school but I have always had an interest in art. In 2015, I left my teaching job to do fulltime art, though I still teach, I teach English and History.

Largely a self-taught artist, Karen said she had always wanted to do art. “I was told when I was in secondary school, that I was not good enough to be a professional artist.”

She was almost discouraged from pursuing her dream in art. “I thought maybe those people (who said I could not be a pro) knew what they were talking about. But when I came back to teaching, I said ‘but this is what I really want to do.’ So to improve my skills, I went to (do apprenticeship at) Universal Studios in the National Theatre. I was discouraged from even going to a full art school. I was told I could not be a professional but I was very determined. That’s basically what happened. I just practised constantly. I was determined to be as good as anyone around me.”

Group exhibition, Destiny for International Women’s Day(Opens in a new browser tab)

Karen says she has sold quite a number of her works before getting this opportunity to have her first exhibition. She will be bringing 10 works of hers to the exhibition.

Exhibiting also is the Ikwerre, Rivers State-born Orlu Prince Ozangeobuoma. Also speaking with Vanguard, Ozangeobuoma said he went to University of Port-Harcourt to study art. “I also studied at the Institute of Management & Technology (IMT), Enugu. Apart from school, I had my first internship with a Port-Harcourt-based artist, Kpodoh Michael.

“I proceeded from there after some years to school. During my third year in school, I did an internship with Duke Asidere. I can say that (meeting Duke) was the beginning of my strokes in art.

“I had a lot of experience and I think they influenced my works a lot. I believe that art is everywhere, it is everything you do. I am an engineer – I build houses, I do a lot of constructions.”

Ozangeobuoma said engineering is something he picked up from his father and his elder brother who are also engineers. “The construction part of the art I do I call them installation. So I do my installation as construction. For me, art is everything I do – it is not only painting on canvasses.

“I paint from the known to the unknown. I want to create things that I don’t even know. So I move from what I know to what I don’t know. Sometimes I call it an end product which is the finished work. In that finished work, I see a lot of things I don’t even know. I communicate with my work while I work. My work talks to me and I talk to my work. Without that communication, I don’t paint.”

Akinbanji Osanyemi who had discovered his creative ability quite early in life said: “I started art at a very tender age. It was something of fun until 2009 when I was in school. I started as a portrait artist. People were just giving me portrait to do for them. I use charcoal. Sometimes I combine materials like pages of textbooks, old textbooks or newspaper to give it some kind of effect. And you can actually see that from my expressions; that the strokes are not really definite, they are rough. The collage makes it easy for me to create that kind of effect.

“I like to do art that cuts across; art that talks to racism, love and the environment.”

Akinbanji’s message also relates to environmental activism – the need for man to stop abusing the environment and protect it instead. Akinbanji will be presenting about seven works in the exhibition.

Alexis Galleries is partnering with Cerebral Palsy Centre, a non-governmental and not-for-profit organisation established in 2010. The Centre which manages children with Cerebral Palsy, CP in Nigeria was founded by Mrs. Nonye Nweke.

The centre has over the years maintained the goals of providing respite for parents and care givers, striving to improve the prognosis of children diagnosed with CP, increasing societal awareness of the condition and spearheading policy changes that will positively affect children living with CP. Part of the proceeds from this exhibition will be donated to Cerebral Palsy Centre.

Imaginativeness is sponsored by Pepsi, Mikano, Tiger, Delta Airline, Wazobia TV, Cobranet Internet Service Provider, iPractico, La Cave, Cool FM, Art Café and the Homestores Limited.


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