By Yinka Olatunbosun
Two is synonymous with duality and that’s the bane of human nature when examined holistically. That’s also true of the nature of the forthcoming two-man exhibition titled, “Shifting Horizons”, at the Quintessence Gallery, Park View Estate, Ikoyi. Godwin Arikpo and Promise O’nali have been partners in progress for a while, with paths colliding in Port Harcourt a couple of times. A synergy between them snowballed into the God-Promise page on Facebook and a joint exhibition in Port Harcourt. But as for art patronage, Lagos is the choice destination for both of them. Just recently, Promise, who graduated from the University of Nsukka, relocated to Lagos. Although his colleague still shuttles between Lagos and Port Harcourt, their latest show which opens on April 23 will likely shift Godwin’s attention to Lagos, at least for now.
Though young and emerging artists, Godwin and Promise desire to give some of the proceeds from the sales of their works to the less privileged, hence this latest exhibition which has a charity underlining. Last Tuesday, a press preview of their works at the gallery was a sneak peek into the world of both artists which may expand beyond 24 pieces before the grand opening.
For Godwin, the works are the products of introspection and an artist’s interrogation of his society.
“Looking at Nigeria, the government is failing us and there are lots of unanswered questions. So there is a need to move from the “me’’ consciousness to the “us” consciousness,’’ Godwin declared.
Yes, the last thing on the mind of the average Nigerian right now is to give. Due to the harsh economic climate, survival is top on every one’s priority list. But there are several children who are completely helpless for living with disabilities. Some had been abandoned by their parents while others have caring but financially incapacitated parents. Such is the story of the children at Eruobodo House, a charity organisation which has been named by the two artists as one of the possible beneficiaries of this show.
“This is also a way of showing appreciation to the gallery,’’ said Promise who had his first show at Quintessence in 2014. He believes that his works are still evolving and his cited Uli art tradition as a major influence. Sometimes, his pieces may seem very abstract, which clearly indicate that Promise’s interest lies in creating works that are thought-provoking.
“If you look at the ‘Birth of Me Series’, it is inspired by a child’s curiosity. It’s about the duality of the life we are living,’’ he explained.
Godwin’s style deviated markedly from Promise’s as he pointed out while fielding questions from journalists.
“If Promise wants to talk about a chair in his work, he talks about sitting. He looks at the intuitive meaning of things around him. But the synergy makes it better. Some people actually want works that offer deeper meanings. If you want encrypt messages, you will love Promise’s works,’’ said Godwin. Godwin who graduated from the University of Port Harcourt took his friends from the media round the few pieces he brought for the preview, one of which he titled, “A place in the sky’’.
“In the sky, there’s no boundary. No one is bound by religion or skin colour. You can be the sky to the next person. Our expectations will always find a place for realization,’’ he remarked, philosophically.
For the piece titled “Cosmic Love”, his preoccupation is on harnessing the self-sacrificing spirit. He argued that the volume of the gift is not what counts, but the large heart behind it. Asides the monetary donation to charity, the show will also feature a children’s workshop scheduled for April 30 at the Gallery. Four schools in the neighbourhood had been selected by the gallery to bring children who will be trained on rudiments of painting, using water colour and other basic techniques of painting.
When asked why Godwin would want to give back to Lagos instead of Port Harcourt where he had spent a good part of his career life, he made reference to some of the shows he had done in Port Harcourt for the sake of humanity.
“Quintessence is very much art-inclined. There are other places we could have gone but it was an idea that was well received here,” said Godwin.
Born in 1972 in Lagos, Godwin lives and works in Port Harcourt. He holds a BA in Fine and Applied Arts from the University of Port Harcourt and has a distinct penchant for experimental works. A creative designer, illustrator and painter, Godwin searches and embraces newer thoughts and materials to refine his techniques.