BY TAJUDEEN SOWOLE
WORRIED about obscene images dominating the art and culture sector of the country, mostly promoted by the media, Barak Uche Elezieolu has decided to use his works to effect a positive change.
This, he expresses, in his debut solo titled, Critical Clump, holding at Yaba College of Technology, Lagos, from October 26 to November 9.
Whatever challenges the artist has in composition, particularly in the figural rendition of natural scenes, he makes up to a greater extent in some of the portrait collages.
As a young artist whose skill is still evolving, his visual commentary
within the social context, for example, in the collage painting of a Prof. Wole Soyinka look-alike Critical Clump I, says so much about the artist’s probe into the psyche of his subject or what, in his thought, people of high esteem stand for.
It is quite thoughtful of him to place a crucifix on the nasal bridge and behind the rims of the grey haired professor’s eyeglasses. And a further exploration into the work reveals many micro-images, particularly in the eyeballs of the subject. He explains one of the tiny images: “The almost invisible gun shows there is violence in every human, but only the love for man and God makes it latent in most people; the ear piece shows the love for music and the arts which the Nobel Laureate is known for.”
|A Fela Anikulapo Kuti collage painting by Brarak Eleziolu|
And that Elezieolu continues the Critical Clump series with the portrait of the late Afrobeat legend, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, sums up the fearlessness in character of which the two social critics and change agents painted are known for. The young artist too has, mentally, imbibed the spirit of fearlessness in his heroes. He declares, “I am an artist, who believes in using my art to make a critical statement.”
The Critical Clump series, which gave birth to the theme of the show, is his new experimental techniques on surrealism.
Perhaps bringing the art discipline into the psychology of gaze, the inspiration, he explains comes from looking at people’s faces and observing that there are many things to see in them than merely the eyes, nose and mouth.”
TAKING the campaign of a just society to his immediate community, away from the elite, Elezieolu goes to the street with core paintings such as Feed Not Into Temptation and Molue Series. Works from these series, perhaps should have been modestly presented in abstract impressionism or minimalist rendition, however, the depiction of the indecent dressing of most ladies in public looks like most artists’ attitude of ‘lets say it the way it is to get the message across faster.’
Elezieolu notes, “the ills and misdemeanours of people in the street suggest a thin line between the irresponsibility of the leader and the led.” Hence the saying, ‘the people deserve their leaders.’
However, the artist shows that he is not another prophet of doom in the making, so suggests the respite in works such as Future Is Bright and Think What You Can Do For Your Country. These works and similar ones, he argues, “encourages the youth to keep working hard as that is the only way to build a great nation.” Some of his past group shows include Experience Nigeria, 2006; Beautiful Nigeria, 2007; Life In My City, 2008; Art In The Saheel, 2010.
Elezieolu is a full time studio artist, but currently teaches art at Marigold College, Oworonsoki, Lagos.