Obi Okigbo’s Solo Statement Echoes around Wheatbaker Walls

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Yinka Olatunbosun

For art connoisseurs in search of a new flame, Wheatbaker Hotel is the choice destination since the Brussels-based artist, Obi Okigbo arrived on the Nigerian art scene late last year. With its title, “Convergence”, the show is a comeback of sorts for Okigbo who has on parade 50 paintings and drawings on paper, canvas, linen and silk as curated by SMO Contemporary Art.

The exhibition mirrors the artist’s fascination with how belief systems, behavioral patterns, and aesthetic values have been influenced by ancient art and mythology from different cultures and eras. Okigbo’s experimentation with delicate paintings using Indian ink and pigment reflectuniversal themes of transcendence. Her powerful portraits of heroes of African descent are “a celebration of collective memory, the archetypal quest for the Self and the truth of our existence.”

Okigbo grew up in Nigeria, and practiced architecture in London, Rome and Paris before moving to Brussels in 1995, where she became a full time studio artist. Asides Nigeria, she has showcased her works in United Kingdom, Dubai and Belgium. In 2005, she established the Christopher Okigbo Foundation which focuses on researching and preserving the legacy of her late father, the poet Christopher Okigbo. Convergence is Okigbo’s second major solo exhibition in Nigeria since 2003.

“We are pleased to host the culturally significant works of Obi Okigbo in what can only be described as a well-timed homecoming for the artist,” said Mosun Ogunbanjo, Director of the Wheatbaker. “Obi’s Convergence presents fascinating portraits of the who-is-who of heroes of African descent along the hotel’s corridor’s providing not just fantastic art, but a veritable history lesson for our esteemed guests.”

“Obi Okigbo’s creativity is a visual Convergence of global mythology, literature, philosophy, and culture presented on a rich tapestry of art,” said Sandra Mbanefo Obiago, the exhibition curator and founder of SMO Contemporary Art. “By presenting her works alongside poetry by her late father, the famous poet Christopher Okigbo, she invites us to “step back into the belly of memory”, drawing from generational stories and personal experience spanning across time and space.

Okigbo is inspired by Italian Renaissance art, early Flemish masters of the 14th century, Mbari art and ideology, ink paintings by “Ohwon” Jang Seung-Ub and Shintao, the writings of Joseph Campbell and her father as well as Afro-beat, Funk and Hip-Hop.

The exhibition is supported by the Wheatbaker and sponsored by Louis Guntrum wines and runs till February 16.