Monday, 12 October 2009
BY TAJUDEEN SOWOLE
THE now popular expression — among opposition politicians and observers of the fumbling political fortune of the nation — that Nigeria is a ‘failed state’ may have informed an installation work by Victoria Udondian, as she prepares for her maiden solo show.
Filling a segment of the wall of her studio is an assemblage of bottles she calls Survival of the Fittest.
It’s a graphic depiction, in conical form, of a class culture taken to the state of slavery: the higher, the fewer; the lower, the multitude.
Survival, therefore, assumes certain tones such that a status down the ladder is hardly appreciated until you suddenly realise, as the installation suggests, there are others, who are yet to even lift up from the floor.
But class is a natural setting anywhere in the world, so what is new or different here?
“The situation in Nigeria is that the rich and the politicians have widened the gap between the wealthy and the masses,” declares Udondian.
Class, to her, is a beauty to behold in a society where equity reigns: the man down the cone would not have bothered how stupendously rich anyone is if he has basic things of life “not necessarily riches.”
Udondian’s art is pregnant with anti-dotes, waiting to be delivered, and unleashed, to the virus stalling the growth of her motherland.
For artists such as Udondian, who want to make some strong statements with their art, particularly in the installation genre, space could be an inhibiting factor: most galleries here lack the required space for installation.
While still hoping that one of the galleries can create a date for her work before the end of the year, the artist does not want to be stranded, hence, the regular and traditional paintings as ‘back up’.
She has them in shades, as her view dictates: Sisters, Return, acrylic on canvas; Aquatic Culture, water colour; Negritude, oil on canvas.
Hardly is there a line drawn between her skill for installation and brushings, as the underwater content extols the beauty of creatures from that part of the ocean in a cinematic style of creating artificial lighting to enhance underwater cinematography.
Udondian’s lighting, similarly demystifies the oceanic-blue colour that eyes are used to and renders a fantasy kind.
“The uniqueness of arts lies in the individuality of the artist. I believe that there is an inexhaustible deposit of knowledge lying dormant both in nature and in our subconscious mind.”
And abstract works such as Sisters and The Return, confirm the deposit of skill in her, irrespective of form or style.
A self-portrait suggests that portraiture in design form is worth giving a space in the menu of portrait paintings.
Beyond the ordinary, the artist also believes that she is gifted with a third eye; as she claims an “ability to see through the mind’s eye as the window to discovering one’s fate. My other language is spoken in colours, brushes or even knife, enriched with limitless diction of visual expression.”
HAVING spent a larger part of her life in Uyo, she is currently in Lagos, attempting to find her level in the mainstream art scene.
As Publicity Secretary of the Society of Nigeria Artists (SNA), practising outside Lagos would have been absurd.
The Lagos exposure has been paying off: her works were featured, simultaneously at ‘Open House’ — an exhibition of contemporary Nigerian art by the Visual Artists Society of Nigeria (VASON) held at Mydrim Gallery, Ikoyi, Lagos; International ArtExpo Nigeria, at the National Museum, Onikan, Lagos.
Also this year, she showed at the inaugural group show of the SNA, Blossom, held at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre, Garki, Abuja, by the FCT chapter and Plight of women, an exhibition by Female Artist Association of Nigeria, National Museum, Lokoja.
WITH degreein Painting from the University of Uyo, Udondian’s post-academic activities go beyond painting, but politics in her profession, as well.
She is a member Catalyst Women Arts and Science Portsmouth, Hampshire, U.K; member, Female Artists Association of Nigeria (FAAN), among others.