Diffusion by Promise O’nali and Chibuike Uzoma
Diffusion, an exhibition of paintings and mixed media works by Promise O’nali (b. 1982) and Chibuike Uzoma (b. 1992) opened at Temple Muse in Lagos. Curated by SMO Contemporary Art, it features 45 works.
Diffusion takes a critical look at the evolution of consciousness and how our individual and communal identity is affected by history and socio-cultural evolution. Both artists are Nigerian and explore these fundamental questions from different ends of the artistic spectrum, employing diverse painting techniques and use of materials.
Uzoma and O’nali question our collective journey of emotional, spiritual and physical diffusion through time and space. O’nali’s remarkable linear style and experimentation with wood, paper, fibre, metal, wire, fabric, polystyrene and paint on canvas are a striking counterpoint to Uzoma’s deft, almost irreverent splashes of colour creating abstract scenes and portraits heavy with sub-text to reflect complex emotional mindscapes.
Promise O’nali studied fine art at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where he graduated with a degree in painting in 2007. His use of diverse media to explore scientific questions such as the origin of evolution is grounded in strong linearity and embryonic metaphors. O’nali’s fascination with the expansion of individual and collective consciousness is evident in the subtle layers of his mixed media works.
Chibuike Uzoma, a multidisciplinary artist adept at painting, photography and drawing, graduated from the University of Benin in 2013 with a major in painting and is heading to Yale University for a Masters of Fine Arts degree later this year. Uzoma references contemporary politics in Africa and her Diaspora and questions popular culture against the backdrop of global conflict. By asking “maybe we know nothing?”, Uzoma creates visual poetry which reflects our universal struggle with identity in a fast-changing universe. “I try to make images that express the basic and necessary elements of human experience: freedom, love, joy, possibility, hope, and even tragedy, ” he explains.
“Diffusion comes against a back of contemporary social consciousness and how it connects to history as certainty lived out” comments art critic, Frank Ugiomoh, professor of art history and theory, formerly at the University of Port-Harcourt. “What is evident in the body of work here is the overwhelming import of the place of consciousness, and the cerebral aspects of the human family symbolised in thought processes,” he explains.
“Uzoma and Onali’s friendship and professional appreciation of each others’ different approaches to art is quite rare and refreshing”, observes exhibition curator Sandra Mbanefo Obiago. “Onali’s exact, clinically scientific approach to painting and his commitment to the environment and scientific discovery is a wonderful contrast to Uzoma’s fluid, impulsive and exuberant style, which stems from an intellectual curiosity influenced by thought leaders like Franz Fanon and Chinua Achebe.”
Diffusion runs until May 17, 2019 and is supported by Veuve Clicquot.
May 27, 2020