By Tajudeen Sowole
Despite increasing hostile socio-economic environment, painter Emenike Ogwo still find reasons for people to appreciate nature as explained in his new body of work. It took the artist traveling on road from Lagos to Abuja to realise the abundance of nature that is hardly appreciated by people.
Yesterday, Ogwo started sharing his experience in nature appreciation as his solo art exhibition titled Life Is Beautiful opened at Terra Kulture, Victoria Island, Lagos; it will show for the next one week. Still in impressionism, which the canvas of Ogwo is known for, some of the works include captures of forestry, birds, low grasslands and cityscape.
The artist is not exactly unfamiliar with road travel. So, what was so special about his last journey in April that he suddenly realised the beauty of nature? The difference between what he saw during his last trip and what he used to know over the decades, he says, is the ability to distill nature from the regular mundane distraction. At a particular age in life, "we start seeing the bright side of life," Ogwo explains, disclosing that Life Is Beautiful marks his golden anniversary on earth.
In 21 years of practice as an artist, Ogwo had, earlier in his career, delved into photography, and perhaps, saw today's trend which had most painters and sculptors use the camera as a tool for fine art. As a painter, currently, it does appear that his knowledge of photography comes in as added strength, particularly in rendering nature.
Among 50 works on display for the exhibition are Okene, landscape scenery in Kogi State and a contrasting Lagos streets scape, Marina. In Okene comes a dimensional illusion texture of asphalted foreground of highway, activities of travelers at bus station and a vast forest in the background that almost swallows the human elements. For Marina, man's creation of high-rise buildings also brings its beautiful side of life, though in an environment where nature appears to have been invaded and perhaps violated too.
Also, among the works that represent what he describes as "nature at its best" is Ososa, "a quiet place outside Benin city." Beyond making a career out of art, the artist hopes that in the next 20 or more years, he would be giving back to the society. He discloses his plans to set up training school for young artists and others who have passion for art.
At 50, culmination of experience, he recalls, has taught him that in achieving success one "must be a man of action; there’s no other way." He explains how goals and determination could end up as nothing if not supported with what he believes is the key word 'action.'
"Knowledge is not wisdom until it is given application, until it is mixed with brains and action." Whoever will make success out of any passion, the artist warns "must" be ready to face challenges. "Can’t do it sticks in the mud, but try soon drags the wagon out of the rut."
The role of intellectual strength, he notes as important as determination. "Work is worthless unless mixed with Brains. The quality of your work will have a great deal to do with the quality of your life. If your work quality is down, your character will be down, your standards down, your ideas down. So whatever I have tried to do in my life, I have tried with all my heart to do well. What I have devoted myself to; I have devoted myself to completely. That makes “Life so Beautiful.
The bees' behaviour as analogy comes into Ogwo's analysis. "The bees tried and turned flowers into honey. No hill is too steep to try a climb. No hole too big for a try to mend. Little pigeons can carry great messages. Even a little dog can bark at a thief and wake up the master and save the house. So, do it now”
Two years ago, Ogwo’s solo exhibition titled Observation offered alternative resource to lovers of motivational books. At the event, 36 paintings, including of impasto-style-textured canvas and acrylic on paper were on display.
The artist had returned with Cultures in Colours from the U.K. and showed same at the National Museum, Onikan, Lagos Island.