Issues, topics, and social dynamics that sway how humans relate with each other, connect with their feelings and response to human impulses, among other come to the fore as a joint exhibition of works by two Nigerian artists, Chukz Okonkwo and Seye Morakinyo, opens on Saturday, September 22, 2018, at Alexis Gallery, Victoria Island, Lagos. While Okonkwo, is renowned as an untiring experimentalist in terms of media and technique, Morankinyo is popular for his collages, pebbles and his meticulous linear expressions.
Okonkwo has exhibited great interest in art during the early stages of his life, and he had his first formal art lesson while in high school. Born in Enugu state, Eastern Nigeria, he is a graduate of fine arts from the renowned art school-Institute of Management and Technology Enugu/Nigeria, where he emerged as the best graduating student in 2001. He has won several art awards and has held over 55 group and five solo exhibitions in Nigeria and abroad. His works are found in many public and private collections. In this collection, the artist attempts to bring to the fore issues, topics, and social dynamics that sway how humans relate with each other, connect with their feelings and response to human impulses. As he notes, “at some point it is obvious we all have a story to tell, how we go about that lies the difference.”
Okonkwo said he draws inspiration from nature, event, his desires, aspirations, emotions, memories, passion and experiences. And recently, he has been experimenting on the possibilities of achieving textural behavior of colors and light against shade in search of form and content.
Morakinyo studied Arts at the Federal Polytechnic Auchi in Edo Sate from 2000 to 2002 with OND certificate and subsequently proceeded for his HND (Higher National Diploma) and graduated in 2005 with distinction in Painting. Born in Igbo-ora, Oyo state, Morakinyo is a full time studio artist in Lagos. He works in collages, pebbles and his meticulous linear expressions. He has participated in several art shows and programs within Nigeria and abroad by proxy. He is an in-house artist at Alexis Galleries, Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria. Among Okonkwo’s works that will be on display include Tonia’s Story, Acrylic on canvas; Dear Mom (Homage to all mothers), Wood fiber wire and acrylic; Fisherman’s invocation, Wood fiber metal wire and acrylic; Someday my Prince Will come, Acrylic on canvas; Dear future wife 111, Acrylic and wood fibre; and Dear future husband 2, Acrylic on canvas.
Tonia’s Story, Acrylic on canvas 4 x 4ft Aug. 2018, interrogates the issue of what the artist called ‘body shaming’. It is about a lady who for seven years of her life, hated her body, hated the size of her breasts, the stretch marks on them, the big dark areolas, and she would go through pictures of other girls with smaller breasts and page through magazines looking at models and torture myself, wanting hers to look like them so bad. The people around her didn’t make it any easier for her. The kids at school would tease, pick on, and bully her because she had big breasts at a young age. Some rumoured that she had a baby at 12 or that she was practising witchcraft. This got to her a lot, and as a result she hated herself and reached a conclusion that she was not and would never be beautiful.
“Body shaming is serious. I know it’s just what people say, and they’re entitled to opinions, but it really changed how I felt about my body. I never had a full length mirror until I was 16. I would wear layers and layers of clothing to try and hide behind. I almost ended, and almost drowned in the thoughts that society had about me.”
DEAR MOM (Wood fiber wire and acrylic, 40 x 40 x 12inches), produced in August 2018, is homage to all mothers. Here, the artist expresses his appreciation of his mother.
“I am grateful to have you as my mother. I really am. I never fully understood what a mother goes through on a daily basis until I became one. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, for everything you sacrificed so I could be where I am today. I Love you Mom. I really do.”
On the piece, Fisherman’s invocation, Wood fiber metal wire and acrylic, 48 x 77inches (2018), he wrote: “A poor fisherman who knows the beauties of the misty mornings is much richer than a wealthy man who sleeps till noon in his palace!” Sea the water is a color for which there is no name.” “Break, break, break, On thy cold gray stones, O Sea!”
But in the series, Dear future wife, Acrylic and wood fibre, 90 x 90 x 12cm (2018), it is the man who is addressing his future wife. “I love all sides of you, the soft shy side, the cheesy romantic side, the charming flirty side, the loving maternal side, also, the dirty sexy side, the funny goofy side, the calm rational side, the organized obsessed side, the passionate driven side, and the open expressive side, as well as the languid lazy side, and the quick witty side. I love the cute cuddly side.
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