Pilaku's Awakening swells Abuja art
By Tajudeen Sowole
(First published April 14, 2008)
Abuja, Nigeria's Federal Capital Territory (FCT), where the nation's wealth is being shared, is also a city where art and politics don't meet. However, it is gradually imbibing art characteristics as Lilian Chizoba Pilaku's solo exhibition adds to the growing art contents of the city.
New comer to the city, Thought Pyramid Centre for the Arts and Culture, Wuse-II, Abuja, since its short stay, has undauntedly promoted art. The group which took up the responsibility to immortalising late Ben Osawe with proposed events such as conferences and exhibitions as well as auction for the late artist's works, is now supporting this younger artist.
The show, Awakening, a solo debut of Pilaku opens today through April 14, 2008 at the art gallery of the centre in Abuja.
The curator of the show, Jeff Ajueshi of Thought Pyramid described the artist's works as "exuding exuberant energy and vitality, compositional complexity and a high degree of originality that explore issues of identity through visual symbols and metaphors."
The works presented for preview were largely of paint brush and revealed an artist, though at home with abstract, ventilates her loaded creative instincts in her diverse approach.
Such prowess was noticed in the works, Are These African Beauties? Do Re Mi and Nlecha. In each of these works, her ability to play around with human figures, depicting characters of diverse creatures is one the artist's strongest points.
It takes a woman to know how to explain what the weaker sex is best known for. This much, Pilaku does in the almost dye-tone look painting, Asilli (Gosip). Though a figural depiction of a lady which perhaps should have been enough to explain the works, the artist's emphasis on the lips only confirms that a lady's mouth is the most effective tool in gossiping.
An exodus of humans for greener pastures is explained in The Flight, where again, she taps into her pool of figural images to bring different classes of people in the society, that are affected by this flight syndromes.
Pilaku said of her work: "It exploits figural images for non-narrative purposes - they do tell a story, provide a description of a situation, of the various components of my identity and create works that strive to make meaning of my personal history as well as the ambiguities and contradictions of contemporary African arts and culture.
"These exploits in wide range of the physical and emotive qualities posses the line to create works that embodies individual creative distinctions as well as group configurations."
Pilaku who obtained her BA Degree from University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 1999, majoring in Painting, also engages in textiles and experimental arts. She has participated in several art exhibitions.
Currently with the National Gallery of Art (NGA), the Director-General of the agency, Joe Musa has some words to describe her work: "What a man can do, a woman can also do, sufficed at the Beijing Conference. This may have motivated the artist to face challenges and reposition herself to occupy a veritable space in the artistic world map of history. One never wondered why the Aba Women Riot of 1929 remained indelible in history, after decades of successfully eroding the roles of women from the cabinets of our local kitchens. A pioneer member of the Society of Women Artists, Pilaku has proven unequivocally that her abilities and artistic character is not a fluke but has maximised it to its pros and cons; her innumerable group, national and international art exhibitions testify to this.
"Awakening is her first solo art exhibition. It comes in a bang. It beams the features os an easy sunlight from one who has made over a hundred paintings in the moment. It exposes her brilliance, creative qualities, womanhood and experience which has over the years matured, waiting for a day of harvest as now"
The artist got another encouragement from Professor Ola Oloidi of Department of Fine and Applied Arts University of Nigeria, Nsukka (U.N.N).
"Lilian Pilaku’s works in this exhibition can be seen as a synthesis of many styles harmonized to prosper her own formalistic achievement. The paintings of Lilian, having strongly echoed the formalism of her alma mater, as already noted, are schematically linear, visually organic and compositely rebellious. Her linearity is well graded into sinuous, bold, delicate, curvilinear, sharp and fluorescent form. In some works, strokes are effortlessly but professionally applied to achieve needed visual simplicity, while in others, brushes are summarily used with penetrating, vibrating, less tense and highly simplified aesthetic force. What makes the artist’s work very ceremonial is the application of many colours; without being unconsciously restricted to or dominated by one particular colour, as usually seen in works of many artists. This identification with various colours also makes her works collectively celebrating, giving the exhibition arena an attractive and vibrant touch of gaiety."
The curator, Ajueshi who was a member of Art Fortune, a group that led 18 artists, mostly based in Lagos, to Transcorp Hilton Hotel Abuja in 2006, used the occasion of the event to restate his commitment to bring art to Abuja. "Abuja has the potentials to beat the over crowded art scene in Lagos. Thought Pyramid is well committed to ensure that more artists, particularly the up and coming ones exhibit here in the Federal Capital"