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Cultural value recovery in Omoighe’s Modern Interpretation


Village Square from Titi Omoighe’s Modern Interpretation

Whatever made Titi Omoighe, a name rarely heard on the Nigerian art exhibition turf, to come out seems to have its alluring value. From the academic shell where Omoighe’s art has coiled for 17 years as a teacher, the artist comes out to benefit from the current fresh breath of contemporaneity on the Nigerian art landscape.

Omoighe’s body of work, on displayed as Modern Interpretation at Temple Muse, Victoria Island, Lagos, brings a missing link between modernism and contemporary spaces, particularly in thematic context. Centralised with native themes and laced in contemporary expression, the exhibition provides a balance in appropriation of art across generations.

Her art emits innocence such that even if her name were detached from the paintings, the depth of strokes still radiates freshness. It will show till August 30; it is sponsored by Moet Hennessey.

Omoighe (b. 1966), lecturers Fine Art at Yaba College of Technology, Lagos. Before joining the academia, she was a set designer at Nigerian Television Authority (NTA).

From a series of works inspired by famous mid-20th century classic Yoruba author, D.O. Fagunwa, to other pieces that highlight cultural similarities between Benin and Yoruba, as well as a communal contents of the peoples, Omoighe’s paintings generate pertinent narratives that make navigation through the past to the present a crucial part of value recovery.

Flaunting her impressionistic skill, Omoighe, in one of the works titled ‘Elders Gathering,’ employs the power of lighting to emboss seated-figures. More interestingly, the artist’s release of the palette to flow, naturally, adds to the texture of the canvas despite the work’s monochromatic tone.

Strengthening her diversified colour application is the artist’s style in compositonal skill; so suggests Village Square, an outdoor gathering of people under a huge tree. Though seems like a high angle view, the emphasis favours the tree, particularly enhañced by the dark colour over the brightness of the human-populated floor. “We should revisit gathering of elders more to solve issues,” Omoighe advises during a preview for the exhibition.

As the exhibition becomes convergence for quite a number of factors in the artist’s journey through her career, the passion for what she notes as native method of painting gets a space as well. Such comes in ‘The Maiden’s Dance’ and others in similar styles for examples, as she says, the pieces “remind us about the indigenous way of painting” to generate contemporary textures.

A bold expression on canvas derived from being TV studio set designer early in her career, fuses so much into quite a number of the themes inspired by Fagunwa’s classic adventure novels. Among such paintings is Akaraogun, a depiction of one of the leading characters in Fagunwa’s book Ogboju Ode Ninu Igbo Irunmale, a 1938 work translated into English by Wole Soyinka as The Forest of A Thousand Daemons. Beyond just her interpretation of the celebrated book in painting, the Fagunwa perspective of Yoruba philosophy, Omoighe discloses, “aligns with my concept of art creation.”

Quite a bold one for any female artist to express a man’s physique. For Omoighe, it comes in a tribute to the master, Yusuf Grillo whose canvas is legendary for the blue colours of all hues. Grillo, 82, is an iconic name at Omoighe’s alma mater, Yabatech.

Still on her training environment, perhaps, the natural and unavoidable influence, no matter how subtle, is another artist, Mike Omoighe’s texture of strokes on one or two of the exhibiting artist’s works. Mike who is also a lecturer at the same school is her husband. “I emphasis more on forms and using drips,” she tries to make a clarification. “As a female artist married to an artist, it has been of mutual suppport to each other despite the challenges.”

With so much to divulge on canvas and yet revamping her career on the mainstream art scene, Omoighe is one of those artists whowe practise could get art historians and critics in complex classification.

There is no doubt that Omoighe is an established artist, who is making a comeback to recover lost ground. However, she seems to have quite a distance to cover, and fast too, particularly in a contemporary age.

Perhaps the first victim of Omoighe’s complex identity is the curator of Modern Interpretation. “Titi has a huge academic following,” curator, Sandra Mbanefo-Obiago notes ahead of the exhibition’s opening. But the curator and director at SMO Contemporar stirs the complexity when she says Omoighe “is considered as emerging artist.”

Avi Wadhwani, CEO of Temple Muse, described her work as sophisticated and have global appeal.”

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