Thursday, 13 October 2011

GEORGE EDOZIE’S EXPRESSIONS OF A NEW JOURNEY

Edozie's leap into Expressions Of A New Journey
(First published in May 2008)
By Tajudeen Sowole
IF the challenges in art are widening by the day – clustering art exhibition schedules of galleries and leaving artists to tap from an already over-stretched source of collections, perhaps exploring other ideas is imperative.
  Traces of such approach is being implored by George Edozie as he prepares for his maiden solo show, Expressions Of A New Journey, holding before the end of the month at the National Museum, Victoria Island, Lagos.
  For Edozie, strictly going for contemporary subjects and re exploring the good old private viewing system is his current device to break the stereotype in Nigeria's art gallery business.
Mirror by George Edozie (2008)


    Preview for selected audience may not be new in the art scene, but the artist's choice of strategy and venues could be a big boost to his show when it finally opens at the National Museum this month. On choice of subjects, the artist is at home with his immediate environment, and not the archival or periodic subjects.
  A visit to the Pan African University, Victoria Island, Lagos Campus, one of the venues for the private viewing offered a rare atmosphere devoid of many viewers at a time and ushered in dialogue between the works and viewers.
 And with an opening not confined within a time frame, the leisure of visiting an art exhibition could not have been better savoured.
  Having focused on largely contemporary subjects: environment and figural works that bare no racial or clear geographical boundaries, the artist states that confining art to an identity is not in his character. He does not see himself as an African artist. His human figural works, for example, he argues can pass for any identity anywhere in the world.
  While work like Visa Lottery, Faith, and few others which have African identity in their figural images may have the artist on the spot to defend his claim of non-racial identity, his aggressive application of colours is, perhaps, an identity. 
Those thick lips, circular iris, contour lines as well as obvious representation of hair patterns cannot be said to be of any race, but African.
  Even though his form is not entirely new, Edozie's ability to get the maximum use of colours, perhaps draws the line between his works and that of artists who works in similar forms. 
  This, he owes to his rebellious attitude as a student, he recalls. "As a student at the University of Benin, I was a 'rebel'. Teachers would tell you that certain colours don't go together, but I always differ and experimented. This attitude later played out in my career as I resolved to survive to paint and not paint to survive. Survival of the art is more important to me than survival as an artist."
George Edozie's Faith (2007)


  And what a way to express humility as Edozie pays tribute to cubist Dike Asidere in a mixed media work, Homeage to Asidere, a depiction of high rise buildings of Lagos central business district.
  The curator of the private viewing, Jess Castellote has words to explain his encounter with the artist's works: "Edozie does not just stand in front of a person or a still life and paints what he sees. He paints what he feels. What pains, gladdens or worries him. Like the Yoruba woodcarver, he does not try to reproduce. He paints what he knows, not what he sees.
  "That is why his faces are always "the face"; made exactly of the same elements repeated over and over again throughout the years: two oblong white eyes with a circular black iris, sensuous lips, (always closed, always red, always the same). No ears, long, tilted neck, black contour lines, flat –perspectiveless, monochrome- background".
  Among his past shows was a group exhibition, Olokoto: Songs of Chima at the Pendulum Arts Gallery, Lekki, Lagos. The show featured the works of Emmanuel Mbanefo; Chinwe Uwatse; Gabriel Emengo; Afam Okwudili; Oliver Enwonwu; Fran Anammah; George Nwadiogbu; Obiora Obieze; Ato Arinze; Uchenna Arah; and Dubem Osaji.



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