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Friday, 4 August 2017

Artists Speak with Different Strokes

Rebecca Ejifoma
On Saturday 17 June this year, a group of aesthetic artist and realistic sculptor from the Niger Delta region – Gab Awusa and Philip Nzekwe – successfully wove their recent thoughts into a basket of 30 realistic art pieces to contain their message of hope to the world on the environmental factor and the exqusite being called woman.

With ‘Different Strokes' as the theme, they painted on their large canvases splattered with water colours and bronze of sculptures in a group art exhibition held at the Terra Kulture Art Gallery in Victoria Island Lagos.

Using the symbol of palm trees, the  five-time solo painter pens with his brushes and colour’s on his canvas the livelihood of the Deltans, their source of education and stream of wealth before the discovery of crude oil, which the country is drooling over today. "People who are not from the South, do not know about the palm tree in Delta.

Most of us who wanted to school got sponsorship from the resources of the palm tree. Most of us have not enjoyed the money from crude oil, directly," Awusa enthused.
Through 'Habbitat' he depicts palm tree as resourceful with financial gains to the average Delta man. "But as a result of the exploitation of the environment, crude oil has caused so much tension in the country."

Awusa and Nzekwe
His works of paints include: Habbitat (120x150cm), Tropical Vibes (120x150cm), the Bride (60x90cm), The Retailer (122x152cm), The Music Maker, Memo of Elizabeth (30x38cm), Nursing Mothers 4 (20x24cm), Bsuy Hands (20x24cm) and Cuddle (30x38cm) among others.

Interestingly, although the Delta state born artist began his illustration with palm trees, he delved swiftly to women - a class of humans he likens to life and beauty. Hence, a cursory look at his works, an art connoisseur would notice the female figure taking the limelight. Awusa simply expresses his love and appreciation for the woman as an epitome of beauty and continuity.

From his statement, the evocative painter made it clear that his subject and theme are drawn from nature and the female body. In nature and woman, God's omnipotence is flaunted. The female figure is the symbol and strength of the family, continuity and the survival of humanity rest squarely on her shoulder. "Without her, the divine mandate to mankind to be fruitful and multiply will not be fulfilled. There is more to this complex human being called woman than her physical attributes.

The painter appreciates the woman's appealing self. He hails her prowess. He adores her carriage and package and he admires her divine mandate, "be fruitful and multiply".  Indeed, it is no gainsaying then that if the woman is not involved in any home that seeks such continuity, then it is a futile journey.

Now, Nzekwe's Crush series is the talk in town. It expresses freedom. It is our feelings and views bottled. We use these children to drive home our points - love and hope that can't be expressed.

So, he transforms junks into beauty to explore the narrative of unexpressed feelings and emotions bottled up in an African Child's minds' eyes in the background of beauty and blossom as a metaphor. "A beautiful, colourful and peaceful environment free from pollution is attainable if the beauty of one's country and its cultural diversity outshines the cloud of greed, over-exploitation and marginalisation."

He shares same ideology and aesthetic appeal with Awusa, who veers from nature and environment to beauty. "I frrely manipulate available materials to invert the story of my people who lived in a land of heartbeat of the Royal Niger Company. Now called the Niger Delta."

Unfazed by the cans of many spiky pieces, the two-time solo sculptor, who runs the most vibrant Art Studio Space in the Niger Delta Region of Asaba in Delta State, Nzekwe, splattered the large canvases of Crush: Tomorrow's Love; Crush: Streamside Exchange; Crush: Inverted Exchange; Love and Landscape. While his wood works are Crush I, Crush II, Crush III, Contemplation (Bronze).

The artists with Nigeria's Printmaker and Sculptor, Bruce Onobrakpeya
Nzekwe is a figurative sculptor, whose works magnet art aficionados to peep through the shapes and define the piece. Indeed, the duo artists had been missing in their own art shows for about five years, through pointilism, he expressed that he believes an artist should carve a niche for himself and be very active since other artists are coming up. "I still want to be seen; hence, this group show with Phillip. And one has to be financially ready, too."

Interestingly, their trays of works celebrate the nation. "That is the way it should be. So, you don't look at the works from one side since they are metaphor. We are using our works to celebrate Nigeria, our country