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Published On: Tue, Jul 1st, 2014

Artists urged to focus on African cultural scenery

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An artist, Onyema Offoedu-Okeke, hasy urged African artists to focus their works on African arts and culture which would sell Nigeria globally instead of copying Western styles.

He told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) at the Temple Muse venue of his exhibition, at Victoria Island, Lagos, that African artists should be Afrocentric.

“African artists are goaded and cajoled into copying western styles which are regarded as more modernistic and cutting edge.

“Unfortunately, the meaning of modern and contemporary African art is often lost in the mad rush to please the gatekeepers of global art platforms,” Offoedu-Okeke said.

NAN reports that the exhibition with the Theme: “Homeland Memories” will hold from June 23 to Aug. 30.

Offoedu-Okeke said that the importance of investigating the past as an artist was to fully understand ones origin and draw from that.

“Drawing from deep traditions will make us to differentiate our arts and be distinct from the rest of the world.

“Over the course of centuries of indoctrination, Africans relieve themselves of cultural heirlooms in order to be holy or sanitised.

“The literary authority upon which their convictions are based has not changed.

“But the vaunted galleries and museums in the societies of the African-bound missionaries are today bulging with African ancestral figures, gods and other paraphernalia.

“They are considered priceless and of inestimable value because of the mould-breaking designs ideas which are read from the forms, shapes, textures and thematic renderings.

“These African deities continually influence notions of arts in their post-African locations,” he said.

The artist, a graduate of architecture from the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), said that “when I say I Am African”, then my art becomes autobiographical in the way it is presented.

He said that his series of works touched on human experience, enveloping space and the cosmos from which human imagination draws its inspiration and corresponding beliefs.

“Over the last 20 years, my style has attracted both admiration and followership from different generations of artists.

“I believe that these new styles of painting have introduced an important modernist influence in Nigerian art which is in line with my architectural sensibility,” he said.

He told NAN that he was inspired by memories of histories, home, human resilience, ascendency of the subaltern, thought scopes as mechanism of conflict resolution which addressed challenges and triumphs in human societies.

NAN reports that the artist had published a book titled: “Artists of Nigeria”, a compendium of 100 years of Nigerian art history in 2012.

Offoedu-Okeke in his solo exhibition, will exhibit 25 acrylic on canvass paintings about pre-colonial times till date. (NAN)

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