Recently, at Rele Gallery, Ikoyi, Legacy Empire Management (LEM showcased monochrome drawings titled Visitors by Austin Uzor as part of its promotion of visual artists worldwide. Uzor made his first major show at the Pan African Film and Arts Festival in Los Angeles, California, USA in February 2016. Born on August 28, 1991, Austin studied Fine and Applied Art at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, graduating in 2013 and since then, he has become a full studio artist.
Prior to this show, precisely in 2014, the promoters showed Olawunmi Banjo’s solo Mind Revolution at Nike Gallery, Lekki, for the appreciative art connoisseurs in the city. For this latest show, the Germany-based art management company featured portraits, depicting ladies fashion and beauty in a collection comprising of portraits such as “Dusty Clouds”, “Whispers of Destruction”, “Pool of Thoughts”, “Adorable Allergies”, “War Head” and “Anticipants”.
The artist, Uzor uses the head as the focal point where the energy that initiates any change is generated. Yes, the portraits could pass as illustrations for beauty products or services, but the intellectual depth in articulating the argument about individual versus societal norms is also loud in the ebullient of the images. His subjects are examined spiritually in works such as “Patches of Light”, “Food is Ready”, “Mud Fences” and “Ashes and Rain”.
The artist, a native of Atta in Imo State, remarked that naturally, everyone was a free until society created a system and made people “live strictly by its standards.”
“In this transformation, we find ourselves walking around in pain and intermittently in unprecedented joy and controlled laughter as Fela aptly called it, ‘suffering and smiling’.
We do this because society has provided roofs over our ailing heads. Our minds are therefore bound by beliefs which are formed of dust and so our true nature is forgotten as we have transcendentally become visitors in our own land. Our true selves are non- existent and our conscience wanders away and fades off at the dawn of realities like the morning mist that just got ambushed by the rising sun.
Society is the new landlord and we are only but loyal tenants at his mercy. This analysis has taken a visual and illustrative dimension as every aspect of our everyday lives has been narrowed down to figurative expressions with ballpoint pen drawings body of work by me,” he declared in the artist statement.