Weave & Co Gallery, with support from of the Lagos-based hotel The Moorhouse, has launched a two-week exhibition of paintings and mixed media, titled Engaging Expressions. Featuring two artists who had been friends and colleagues over the years, namely Joe Essien and John Ogbeta, this show is a convergence of taught and experimental techniques. Over a decade ago, these artists graduated at the Auchi Polytechnic, from an art school with reputation for expressionistic style. But in this exhibition, there are some pieces that are impressionistic.
John Ogbeta usually works with found objects to make profound statements on socio-economic issues. â€œI delve into subjects that relax and excite,â€™â€™ he said, during the press preview of his works at The Moorhouse in the upmarket Lagos neighbourhood Ikoyi. That was quite evident in his multi-media works titled, â€œUrban Manâ€™â€™ and â€œRural Dwellerâ€.
For instance, in â€œUrban Manâ€, Ogbeta explores colours and found objects to communicate the message of urban consumerism. Newspaper print, corks, air freshener containers and other articles that are synonymous with middle-class status were appropriated in this large piece that turns trash to treasure.
Commenting on the size of this work, Ogbeta said, â€œI wanted something imposing to drive home my point.â€™â€™ In retrospect, he questioned the existence of the urban man, as an entity that likes to think of himself as self-sufficient because of his economic strength. He often forgets that there is a symbiotic relationship between him and the â€œRural Dwellerâ€. The latter piece is used to depict the agricultural setting of the rural dweller and his importance to the urban man in the economic cycle.
Ogbeta is also fascinated by the message of love. He attempts to address the issue of marital discord and societal love deficit in one of his pieces.
With Joe Essien, it is â€˜expect the unexpectedâ€™. He takes a bold swipe at the political climate in Nigeria in this piece titled, â€œWe Send Them to Represent Us.â€™â€™ Burrowing through the predominant state of amassing wealth for self in the political system, this artist throws his punchlines -equipped with palette knife and colours. His works include â€œWhen We Turn A Blind Eyeâ€™â€™ and â€œGuardian Angel (Brotherâ€™s Keeper)â€™â€™ with subject matters of sporadic killings by herdsmen and sycophancy seeping through the lines. From easel-to-mural-sized works on plywood and canvas, his themes vary in the sphere of socio-political concerns.
This show, which opened on Saturday, June 23, is on until Friday, July 6 at The Moorhouse.