By Tajudeen Sowole
For every creative professional in a challenging work environment such as Nigeria’s, artist, George Edozie’s new body of work titled Afro Love showers praise.
In a reflective theme, Edozie uses his career as a prism through which most creative professionals, particularly visual artists, would find similarities. With 18 painting and two sculptural pieces, the artist who until now has done his works strictly on canvas shares his experience of 18 years career via Afro Love, his fourth solo art exhibition, which comes to a close tomorrow at Alexis Galleries, Victoria Island, Lagos.
He argues that the challenges of hostile environment is common among Africans at home.. In fact, he discloses that he was going to title the work “Negro Love”, but thought of the “offensive” connotation that the word ‘Negro’ generates.
A painting, City Girls from George Edozie’s Negro Love
Defending his passion for art, Edozie stresses that “for 18 years of my career, the environment in this country has been very unfriendly, but because of my passion for art, I have been able to face the challenges”. Comparatively, he argues that “artists abroad are not better than Nigerians working here, given the same level playing field”.
One of the works, Negro Couple highlights the extended family culture, which though has its advantage, but often times incuse into the privacy of a couple. For example, “delay in having a child, financial responsibility to siblings and others distract black couples and affects success in professional callings”, the artist states.
Viewing his career from these socio-cultural challenges and the attitude of the general public to art, Edozie notes that art, over the years has been misunderstood or narrowed down to lowly “luxury” and “just decorative item”. Artists and promoters, he urges, need to educate people that the value of art is about “strong message, recording history, and mirroring the society”.
During the last edition of Pechakucha Lagos at Goethe Institut, Edozie was among the artists and designers chosen to present their works. At that event, Edozie presented his first sculpture of fabrics, a lettering he did for Lagos Business School. But with Afro Love, he has taken the fabric sculpture technique higher. in just two works. he seems to have announced his arrival as an artist whose skill transcends painting on canvas.
Fabric sculpture, he recalls, has been a work in progress for him “nine years ago, but has not shown it in the public”.
The curator, Mrs. Patty Chidiac notes that Afro Love is Edozie’s “largest collection” at a single show in recent time. She describes the artist’s style as a rendition “with the pallet knife using thick layer of bright pigments adoring his canvas and bringing that radiant feeling to the viewers”.
The exhibition, like previous shows, Chidiac explains could not have been possible without the support of art loving corporate organisations such as Chocolate Royal, Cool FM Lagos, Nigeria Info, Lagos, Arra Vineyards, Homestores, Veuve Clicquot and Wazobia 95.1 FM, Lagos.
For the artist who is also a co-curator at Alexis Galleries “art is a universal language which cuts across different cultures or races”. He supports his assertion with what he describes as his experience about “people acquiring works of Art without knowing the Artist’s cultural background, not speaking the same language with the Artist or understanding the symbols and designs in the work”.
Edozie has shown in 69 group Exhibitions within and outside Nigeria. He is also the co-author of the book 101 Contemporary Artist, A Celebration of Modern Nigerian Art, published in 2010.
He is one of the co-founders of the Art group Artzero and also an Art consultant at the Alexis Gallery in Lagos. He was part of the exhibitions Africa Now organized by the World Bank for emerging African Artist at the World Bank main complex Washington DC USA in 2008 and African Way of Art, La Galerie Vendome Paris France in 2011. George has successfully curated 13 exhibitions in the US, France, UK,