“Impasto”, an exhibition by Emenike Ogwo which opens on September 8 and runs till September 13 at Terra Kulture, Victoria Island, Lagos, aims to highlight the boundless limit of creativity, writes Mary Ekah
Impasto, the process or technique of laying on paint or pigment thickly so that it stands out from a surface, has been a style that Emenike Ogwo has found fascinating for decades.
“It is an approach that I like and I have always painted like that because in painting we have about five elements of designs and for your design to be okay, you have to have colour, line, texture, form and value. As a painter, you express yourself in colour and for those who draw a lot, you would see lines in their works while the colour would be so faint. But for some, you see thick colour, which is what I believe in. I believe in works coming out of the canvas and that is why I have been so fascinated by the technique Impasto which I use basically to express what I have in mind,” Ogwo said.
“I had my last exhibition in 2009 and a lot has happened between 2009 and 2012. It is either you are correcting the ills in the society or you are making a statement or whatever. While you still create fun in your environment, you make a statement to change things that need to be changed and also educate those that need to be educated. Also, the technique Impasto has been silent and now I want people to know that this is my style,” the artist added.
Ogwo noted further: “In judging our progress as individuals, we tend to concentrate on external factors such as one’s social position, influence and popularity, wealth and standard of education. But internal factors may be even more crucial in accessing one’s development as a human being like honesty, sincerity, simplicity, humility, purity, generosity, absence of vanity, readiness to serve your fellow men to mention but a few.”
He explained that this exhibition deals with qualities within the reach of every soul, which is the foundation of one’s spiritual life. He however expressed dismay over the fact that it is difficult to come to terms with this all important responsibility because of problems which we face, starting from the rights of a child.
“Basically, every child has the right to life and to be allowed to survive and develop. Every child should receive compulsory basic education and equal opportunity for higher education depending on individual ability. He or she is entitled to good health, proper medical attention for survival, personal growth and development. Every child must be protected from indecent and inhuman treatment through sexual exploitation, drug abuse, child labour, torture, maltreatment and neglect. No child should suffer any discrimination irrespective of ethnic, origin birth, colour, sex, language, religion, political and social beliefs, status or disability. Parents should give the child parental care, love, affection and proper upbringing,” said Ogwo who explained that his works in this exhibition are basically based on this premise.
Ogwo who is showcasing 40 works said he has been working towards the show for about four years and has titles like “Breastfeeding: What Future”, a work that shows a mother cow working away while her calf suckles from the cow’s teat. The work, Ogwo said aims at educating mothers on the importance of breastfeeding their babies. There are also other titles like, “Tokunbo Car Park-Marina” “CMS Bust Stop”, “Balogun Market”, “Help the Needy” “The Journey of Life” and many others.
For Ogwo, a great painting is all these moments captured an even though it may take years to create, he believes the effect on the viewer is immediate. “Good art is more than just a record of the artist’s inner life. For it to be universal, it must represent a fusion between who is describing and what is being described. If the content is too dominating and the technique too super-finished and academic, the painting can look impersonal. If the artist is too dominating, too expressionistic, the painting can look self-indulgent,” he noted.
The characteristics of a superior painting, Ogwo argued, are the same characteristic that you find in a good piece of music or a good novel or a good play. One of these qualities, he said is richness in a painting - a wide tonal range with strong darks and vibrant lights.
“Another quality is mystery. If everything is too precisely rendered, the viewer is not pulled into the painting; there should be unexplained passages for the viewer to fill in. Simplicity is yet another attribute of good art. Both the idea and the depiction of that idea must be simple enough to communicate forcefully.”
Another quality he noted is design. A good painting Ogwo insisted assembles disparate elements into a structured order. “Each piece has a shape and design of its own that echoes the general design of the painting as a whole and then it must have focus,” he added. More importantly, the painting, he noted, should have a focus and should lead up to something, adding however that aforementioned qualities are not peculiar to painting but to life in general, noting that “collectively, they define all arts or what life is about”.
“A good painting speaks to us though it may not have a lot to say, it says it so beautifully that you are never tired of taking it in. One look at a really fine landscape painting will refresh your memory and fill your depressed heart with gladness. Again you might in a fit of gloom, grow to dislike the sight of hundreds and hundreds of people streaming along in drab closes, all hurrying, all cross looking. One look at some of the best painting will remind you that people are not so bad after all.”
A painter, according to him, paints what he loves and “if he is an artist he will make you love it to. So when you feel depressed with everybody go and stare at the pictures in art gallery and they will probably put you in a kinder frame of mind.”