Saturday, 22 August 2009

For Edozie, identity on trial

RECENTLY, cubist George Edozie had a good showing at the art and fashion exhibition organised by the Greek Embassy in Nigeria with Leventis Group.
With a theme that focused on diverse Nigerian traditional wears, Edozie, whose forms dwell on figuration, didn’t look like the right choice for the show titled A Kaleidoscope of Nigerian Traditional Costumes held at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja. He argues, “I am not an African artist and I dislike ancient or any periodic image show.” Few days before the event, he still wasn’t sure why the organisers of the show chose him to paint the theme of the exhibition. “Maybe because the Ambassador, Haris Dafaranos; and his wife, Eva; have been following my works for sometime now, ” he says. Indeed, there must be something about Edozie’s work that the Greeks found in common with the focus of the show. His work was part of Hellenic Image and 54 Nigerian Masters in Translation held at The Embassy of Greece, Lagos and Abuja, few years ago. The combination worked in the last show, as traditional apparels complemented classic expression such as cubism. Edozie’s composition cuts across the various ethnic groups in the country, with such works as After the Party (Yoruba Couple), Argungu Fever, Benin Couple, Wazobia, Chief and New Wife, among others, the artist revealed an ‘identity on trial’. Figuration is unavoidable in After Party, just as the artist makes frantic effort to maintain a cubic look. Argungu Couple also poses a challenge to Edozie’s cubic identity. However, he seems to have made an escape in Prelude in the Garden. WITH Expression of a New Journey at the National Museum, Onikan, Lagos, last year, he began the journey to redefine his art. Few weeks to the opening, a private preview held inside the lobby of the Lagos Business School, (LBS), Victoria Island, Lagos, where he unveiled some of his radical characteristics. Between that show and now, Edozie kept growing in ideas, shifting from the art form commonly seen in galleries that earned him a place in the group show, Beyond Figuration, concluded about the same time at Omenka Gallery, Victoria Island, Lagos. “Although I am a cubist, one cannot afford to be rigid as an artist; I am neither an African or European painter,” he states. His works explain much of this with its zero tolerance for African motifs. For him, “universal signs” make more sense in the mixed media and collage assemblage of 29 pieces for the Abuja show. EDOZIE also recalls how Prof. Perkins Foss saved his work from being rejected by the panelists of the controversial art competition and exhibition, The Unbreakable Nigerian Spirit. With over 20 group shows in 13 years after graduation practice, his only solo has been With Expression of a New Journey. Edozie, however, is not bothered. He says it’s not a drought. To him, more solo outings, “will come at the right pace, am not in a hurry, anyway.” AMONG his past shows are Olokoto: Songs of Chima at the Pendulum Arts Gallery, Lekki, Lagos., which featured the works of Emmanuel Mbanefo; Chinwe Uwatse; Gabriel Emengo; Afam Okwudili; Oliver Enwonwu; Fran Anammah; George Nwadiogbu; Obiora Obieze; Ato Arinze; Uchenna Arah; and Dubem Osaji. EVENTS Splashes Terra Kulture assembles 40 artists in Splashes, a show that is aimed at promoting miniature paintings and sculptures, from August 15 to 20, 2009. International Art Expo Nigeria The second edition of Art Expo Nigeria, now to be known as International Art Expo Nigeria, holds on August 21 through 30, 2009 at National Museum, Onikan, Lagos.

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