By Tajudeen Sowole
A first solo art exhibition for Tega Akpokona comes with bold, though shadow of some of his mentors. But an artist who has a determination to step beyond the initial unavoidable influence of his masters is also loud in the brushings of Akpokona.
An artist with faint texture of impressionism, Akpokona whose solo, Timeless opened yesterday at Terra Kulture, Victoria Island, Lagos, is denouncing isms of any kind for broader freedom of expression. Art, he argues, should not be confined to movements or any group ideology. That’s quite a familiar argument common among most artists of contemporary age.
However, Akpokona appears to be working his talk as seen in some of the works during a preview of the exhibition. Despite a toning style that leans towards European renaissance classic period, the young artist's application of light, particularly in softening and highlighting imagery could just be his strong asset in the brushing and paletting business.
Thematically, Akpokona brings onto canvas issues that set people thinking beyond narrow partisan of politics and ethnic bigotry. Also, his love for artisans and cottage industry is of interest.
One of his works titled Give Us This Day, rendition of a queue of IDPs lining up to collect food should make sympathisers of those who benefits from Dasuki-gate do a self-assesement of their moral values. "It is my visual way of expressing concerns that we have refugees in our country," Akpokona tells his guests ahead of the exhibition.
And just in case the sympathizers of Dasuki-gate and their beneficiaries still do not understand the catastrophe caused by diversion of fund meant for Nigerian army's fight against Boko Haram terrorists, Akpokona adds: "farmers who should be producing foods have been displaced, and are now begging for foods." Lit in the artist's technique of highlighting, which creates both silhouetted and illuminated images from the figures, Give Us This Day captures tragedy of a whole region in northeast Nigeria that was prevented from three seasons of farming as a result of Boko Haram insurgency.
As much as Akpokona's works are heavily laced with thought provoking themes, the essence of art as an embodiment of conversation and aesthetic values are not missing. This much exists in works such as Allegory of the Receiving Ends, Refulgence and Sanguine Whispers, among others.
Basically, the artist's palette has a loud colour for the cottage and non-formal sector of Nigerian work force. "Industrious and artisan people inspire my work," he says.
Akpokona's bio: he is an outstanding and talented young Nigerian emerging artist. He lives and works in Lagos. He graduated with a Bachelor in Art Degree, from the University of Benin, Nigeria, in 2011. Subsequently, He became a protégé under the mentorship of master Nigerian artist Abiodun Olaku at the Universal Studios of Art. Viewing His paintings, the viewer is allured by the creative use of light interplayed with rich subtle, colours, capturing the depth of human emotions. His works can be found in prestigious private collections Nigeria, in the UK and in the US.
Selected Exhibitions and Awards - Empower 54 African Art Charity Gala', Atlanta GA, USA, 2016 -Affordable Art Auction' Arthouse Contemporary, February 2016 -"EMERGINGARTISTAWARD", SocietyofNigeriaArtists2015 - Society of Nigerian artist "October rain" art exhibition, Lagos, 2014 -"Home coming", a salon by contemporary Nigerian artists, Abuja, 2014 -“ArtintheHouse”,Abuja,2013 -"Unforgettable Treasures" miniature artfair, Lagos, 2009.