Friday, 12 June 2009

Eze shows What They Did Not Teach Me In Art School

FROM June 4 through 28, Joseph Eze will be showing at Tribes Art Africa Gallery, Ikota Shopping Complex, VGC, Lekki, Lagos.
Eze, whose brush movement dwells on bold colour, will share his thoughts in the solo show titled, What They Did Not Teach Me In Art School.
The painter is not the character in Onuora Nzekwu and Michael Crowder’s book Eze Goes To School, but the survival factor brings a faint similarity.
Quite a curious theme, isn’t it?
“Oh yes!” Eze agrees.
“I realised that I was not taught certain lessons that should have moulded me, in my career, during my school days at University of Nigeria, Nsukka,” he explains.
The artist, who graduated in 2002, and has been a studio artist for seven years, says, “your skills or talent does not matter in the field.”
The works available for preview were serially labelled in what he calls, Lesson.
His thoughts on the barrier, younger artists face in trying to find their level informed Lesson 13: When You Close Your Eyes and Say Your Name and They Won’t Let You In.
And symbolic here is the action of a lady whose concealed face and palms covered in paper collage and acrylic, explains the artist’s position on the issue.
Some of the supposedly texts from the newspaper waste used as collage strengthened the message Get Smart, The Dream, Going Back to That Form and Brother Can You Spare A Painting?, among others.
Other works like Lesson 14: Keep It Thorough and Tight; Lesson 8: Listen to the Tune, but Keep Your Eyes Open; Lesson 3: Flaunt It Like A Yellow Turban; Lesson 5: When It Wouldn’t Sell in A Mall, Hawk it in the Street; Lesson 4: Keep your Eyes on the Destination not on the Road make bolder statement on what it takes for an upcoming artist to survive the heat of the canvas.

LOOKING at these works either contextually or content-wise, Eze’s work emits liberalism, an apparent tool in the battle for survival. And he readily accepts that, “so happily I could switch sides, whichever way the market swings. Oops! Does that sound so commercial? Well, that’s what they didn’t teach me in Art School; how I could shove ideals into my pocket and face up to the real life without losing authenticity.”
Art School, it’s been said does not offer you all the knowledge you need to survive post-school career, this assertion, Eze demands an answer.
He asks, “can we take a fresh look at the relevance of our Art School curricular with a view to making the artist more society-ready? Should the artist’s identity be particular or pragmatic? Romantic or practical?”
And the place of collection, which is the exit point of art, is crucial to the career of an artist. But most collectors, he argues, “are artistically blind” thereby making the terrain highly unpredictable.
Eze explains, “friendship, family ties and other factors play out in most collectors’ choice of artist rather than the quality of the artist and his work.”

FOR Tribal Art Africa Gallery, the choice of Eze as the exhibiting artist is informed by what Rodney Asikhia, CEO / Curator, describes as “bold use of colours — Red, Green and grey to create a sense of balance and stability.”
Eze made his debut appearance in a group show New Energies at Nimbus Art Centre and Mydrim Art Gallery, Ikoyi, Lagos, in 2001. Later that year, at the yearly National Youth Culture Festival Delegation in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, he came first for drawing, and second prize for painting.
His first solo, Inside of Me was held in 2002 at Castledown Art Gallery, Victoria Island, Lagos and another group show, With a Human Face at Lagos Business School, Lekki, in 2006.

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