Published- ThisDay Newspapers, 19th Dec. 2010, p. 78.
Temples smeared in crimson like blood on the Taj Mahal; eyelids swollen, eyes half-open; patches of blue and grey dotting the entire face- they were the colours of the Niger Delta. The oil painting made by Segun Aiyesan was the icon for the exhibition which was part of the events lined up for the Carniriv Week in the cityof Port-Harcourt. The exhibition, which was curated at the prestigious Genesis Center, G.R.A; Port-Harcourt, featured a total of seventy art works from eight most talented artists in the Niger delta.
As I approached the exhibition area, my mind immediately got enraptured by the myriad of paintings, photographs and charcoal drawings that lined the brightly lit corridor. I moved round the gallery, feasting enthusiastically on the pounded yam of paintings the artists had prepared. It was like dining with eight sages; like iron sharpening iron, the adroitness of and wealth of ideas projected in their works blew spells of wisdom and inspiration on my lay-mind. I felt invigorated. Like Michel Angelo painting the Sistine Chapel I felt I could paint the world beautiful. An aura of undaunting faith in the face of challenges encapsulated my mind. This was the intention of the artists. They wanted the people of the oil-rich delta to see beyond the violence and devastation that has lain waste their lands. These men have been able to embrace the air of tension and uncertainty, and in spite of this, were even more invigorated and creative than ever. They have passionately and dexterously presented the beauty, peoples, agonies, pains and joys of the Niger Delta in oil paintings, charcoal drawings, photographs, mixed media etc. They were Micheal Kpodoh, Johnson Nwadinma, Cyril Onyeagba, Palmore Abassah, David Anomnaze, Woko J. Aguru, Timi Amah and Segun Aiyesan.
Micheal Kpodoh- Micheal who hails from Sagbama in Bayelsa State, is a graduate of Fine Arts from Auchi Polytechnic in Edo State. He says he has started making money from art works right from his primary school days and has been painting professionally since 2004. For this particular exhibition, he dedicated his works to the children of Niger Delta and this is reflected in all his works presented at the exhibition. For this exhibition he has also decided to bring only charcoal works as a way of marking his uniqueness from the whole pack. He says he paints for pleasure but he’s only fortunate that people pay him for what he enjoys doing. He also criticized the attitude of some art collectors who wait till the last days of an exhibition before coming to buy artworks; he believes it is probably a black man’s mentality and should be discouraged.
Johnson Nwadinma- Johnson, who is a graduate of Fine Arts from University of Port Harcourt (Uniport), Rivers State, has been painting professionally for five (5) years. He believes in simplicity and gets most of his inspiration from the ordinary things of life. He recounted his childhood days when he started drawing at a very tender age and got fascinated with painting in secondary school where he used to lock himself up in the dormitory to make poster colour paintings. He works more with acrylic than oil. He laments the challenge of unavailability of state of the art exhibition galleries in Rivers State, as well as the unavailability of exhibition grants in the country.
This article was written by Folarin Kolawole
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