Akalaka: Lines of Destiny
by Ladun Ogidan
From April 19 to July 15, Akalaka: Lines of Destiny, an exhibition of watercolours and sculpture by contemporary Nigerian artists Tayo Adenaike and Obiora Anidi will open at The Wheatbaker, Lagos. Both artists have achieved renown for their work that echoes the interplay between existential perceptions regarding physical form and energy, tradition, as well as the restrictions of culture and society.
The title of exhibition as the curator Sandra Obiago explains, is apt as the artists are showing again together after their first joint exhibition at the Italian Cultural Centre in Lagos, 31 years ago.
Adenaike works predominantly in watercolors, incorporating numerous uli designs, and more recently, nsibidi motifs. His layered human forms with their intense expressions explore the complex tensions between emotion and the spirit. His themes also revolve around his Yoruba background and are visible in his intricate designs. Uli (black indigo) is a historically ephemeral form of mural and body painting practiced predominantly by female artists in Igbo speaking regions of southeastern Nigeria. Art critic, Chuu Krydz Ikwuemesi explains “At the thematic level, Adenaike has gradually become more intuitive, using his art to relate with the subconscious and as an access road to happiness. Earlier on in his career, he engaged in resistance art, like most Nsukka artists, thinking he would change politicians…According to him, his art is a graphic re-enactment of what he hears and sees.”
Anidi’s remarkable sculptures of concave spaces and solid marble planes embody symbiotic relationships, skillfully intertwined with metal accents. Here, he interrogates socio-political issues with works like Anya Ike…Innocence of the Youth, Aftermath and Nightmare of the Deprived, underscoring the resilience of the human spirit. He also explores the idea of family as seen in his three legged sculpture Ekwu Ito…Trinity of the Extended Family which displays a strong external family structure while harbouring deft internal politics and alignments. According to Chris Afuba, “Anidi’s works are tempered with the philosophy of relativism. Even his Anya Ike, which looks singular in interpretation, is pluralistic in concept formation. He addresses the youth in their complex world—a shock representation of almost two-dimensional reality in a three dimensional structure.”
Both Adenaike and Anidi are part of the Uli art movement, which originated at the famous Nsukka Art School of the 1970’s and 1980’s, pioneered by Uche Okeke, Chike Aniakor and Obiora Udechukwu.
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