In just two outing, a group of young artists led by Jonathan Ikpoza is gradually becoming a ventilator for the genre among peers. The group had its debut last year with a show titled, Illumination.
The group made a return to the scene recently with 10 artists whose works cut across painting and sculpture. Ikpoza, Steve Ekpenisi, Kpodoh Michael, Agemo Francis Sewanu, Omon Sophia Igbinovia, Ojemekele Ighodalo, Nzennaya Barry Ikechukwu, Soile Olayinka, Raymond Right and Usman Semiu Alvin were the artists in Illumination 2, which showed at Terra Kulture, Victoria Island, Lagos. Ekpenisi, Ikpoza and Kpodoh were among the 10 artists at the maiden show.
Ikpoza brought to the show, among other pieces, a mixed media of oil, newspaper and charcoal on canvas titled, Pure Soul-4. Covered with what looked like a splash of white paint that was illuminated by a ‘spiritual light’, the lone lady figure with mobile phone in her left hand still showed some form of softness despite her masculine frame. However, the aesthetic strength of the work lay in the newspaper collage as a wrapper or sleeveless skirt for the lady. He made the best of the newspaper columns to generate linear effects that enhanced the painting.
As the only one showing sculptures in the gathering, Ekpenisi went into native value for an analogy about integrity. This much, he depicted in a bull-like animal titled, Oken anu ke we eson aza efan (Humans affiliate with distinguished animals). “It’s about emulating people of good character,” the artist explained, while pointing out the society’s declining values.
One of Kpodoh’s works in the second gathering, Ebiere, acrylic on canvas, captured the innocence of children. Sprinkled with motifs, the painting refracted purity and beauty in a young girl. Sewanu, an expressionist, on his part, applied figurative imageries in bold narrative form. In one of such paintings titled, Electoral Officials, the artist captured these umpires that the public treat with suspicion.
In a shift from painting and three-dimensional sculpture, the only female among the artists, Igbinovia, injected her metal foil texture identity into the gathering. She asserted her consistency in the metal foil with such works as, Mother and Child, Orange Seller and Sharon.
Ighodalo, another expressionist in the group, came with quite a number of figural depictions. But in a simplified representation titled, Ransom Expectation, his palette peeped into the den of kidnappers by highlighting an idle assault riffle and protruding hand holding a wrap of hemp.
Perhaps, the aggressive presence of realism, in recent years, on the Nigerian art space, would not subside so soon as some observers have predicted. Olayinka has quite some rich paintings such as, Sister’s Will, Peace Within and A Taste of Celebrity that fell between realism and the hyper side of it.
Again, Olayinka, like some artists in the hyperrealism race, flaunted his brushing skills in fluids on human skin.Whoever likes digital texture may find Stimulus series paintings by Ikechukwu interesting. Rendered in oil on canvas, the artist’s style in lighting exuded covert cubism, even in their sensuous radiation.
Quite a balance in curatorial contents for Illumination 2, so, suggested the monochrome contributions by Right. Impressionistic and stylised in his figurative approach, the artist, sometimes, iconised objects and spotlighted areas of focus with colours, drawing attention away from the general monochrome look of his works.
Some of Semiu’s paintings include, highly stylised such as, My Story and Spiral of Life.“It’s all about enlightening people, particularly using our art,” Ekpenisi said, while explaining the Illumination theme. “The whole idea started with Ikpoza when we were in school, at Auchi Polytechnic in 2005.”
Ikpoza holds Higher National Diploma in painting from Auchi Polytechnic, Auchi (2009). Apart from the Illumination series, Ikpoza is also the founder of The Ingenious Minds as well as a pioneering member of Araism Movement. He is the manager /CEO, Jonix Studios, based in Lagos.