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Allison, Ezeigwe in transcendence art

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The duo of Christian Allison and Ikechukwu Ezeigwe, both emerging artists, lit the visual art scene in April with the Transcendence Art show held at the Thought Pyramid Art Centre, Ikoyi, Lagos.

The one-week show saw 16 works, eight each from the artists, who incidentally were winners of the 2019 and 2020 editions of the Next of Kin art competition.
Allison, a hyperrealism painter, skillfully used his palette and brush to tell his own part of the African story. His works: Little Light 1 and 2, Beautiful Imperfection 1 and 2, A Gust of Hope, Expressions and others, highlight themes that include, identity, depression and meditation.

In Beautiful Imperfection 1 and 2, where winsome faces of a lady and a man are covered with black spots, the artist showcases beauty in ugliness and ugliness in beauty. It tells the story of the ups and downs of human life; stressing that life a times could be incomprehensible. While in Expressions, he depicts courage and accentuates the need to be proud of one’s identity, irrespective of all the odds.

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His dexterity at blending light and darkness in his paintings reveals how deeply he could express himself on the canvass and as well prickle the thoughts of his viewers; making them to see his work from diverse views.

Drawing on canvas or paper using charcoal, pencil, chalk or oil pastel, Allison notes: I like to play with light and darkness on my works because black background helps me eliminate all distractions and also makes viewers to concentrate on the subject matter — the painting itself. It leaves the background opaque.

“The play of light and darkness on the black skin is usually phenomenal. The way black skin reflects on light is different from every other skin type; it is usually very interesting. This is what I try to capture with my works, using darkness and light. I want to use how they mingle to portray emotions. Where you can almost see their experiences from their eyes; they are expressive. They would try to pull you in.

“ In Beautiful Imperfection 1 and 2, I was trying to take the mind of the viewer off skin irritations to the absolute beauty, to express how imperfection can be beautiful. What one person might call imperfection or defect can be a beauty in the end. Sometimes, you need to take a step back to refocus on the big picture,” he notes.

For Ezeigwe, an anthropomorphic painter, the story is different. Using animal heads, especially that of monkeys and fruits, he conveys messages, whose themes include abundance, profligacy, love, politics among others.

In Smile of Spring, an elderly man with flowers on his chin, bananas, apple, dates, watermelon, bird looking over a wooden fence and white rabbits playing on the ground with carrot, the artist highlights the haplessness of most African countries, like Nigeria, whose youths are jettisoning farming for other professions. It also showcases how various governments have overlooked agriculture and how most times farm produces are wasted for lack of the technical know-how to preserve them.

With No Guts, No Glory, he pictures a war general in his tunic adorned with medals and helmet. The face, however, is not of a human, but that of a monkey. This, he replicates with ‘Clan Chief’ adorned in native Indian attire and with a monkey face.

Unveiling his knowledge of anthropology and the Charles Darwin’s theory on evolution, Ezeigwe in Theories, Beliefs and Conviction depicts human evolution stages. And in ‘Rango,’ while calling for the observance of the various COVID-19 pandemic protocols, prays for an end to the pandemic, adding that even with the end that things can never be normal again.

Commending on his paintings, the artist said: “I am just expressing my thought. Most of the works express my determination and zeal. I have faced lots of challenges in my artistic quest; so, I chose to be unconventional to break the mould.”

According to Ovie Omatsola, Exhibition Director, “Transcendence is an event solemnizing the development and independence, successes and achievements of Christian Allison and Ikechukwu Ezeigwe in their up-class artistic takeover.

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“It is a special ceremony honouring and expressing admiration for two unconventional future masters of art in Nigeria, who are rapidly excelling beyond the ordinary range of imagination of any individual who have witnessed their artistic journey.

Omatsola observed that one of the major problems artists and curators face in this part of the world is the lack of interest or willingness of capable industry stakeholders to begin and sustain life-changing projects that can raise the position of others.

He noted that there is a void that keeps expanding daily die to the absence of vision to anticipate and inspire the future. He said: “Art should be a means of achieving environmental safety, while secondarily exploring the revenue generation aspect of art to primarily empower lives. Like it has become a norm with us at Thought Pyramid Art Centre to inculcated the habit of not waiting on others to lead the way.

“Part of our core duties has become setting pace for others to follow and with the sole objective of furthering the growth of every artist without preferential treatments and promoting the development of art in Nigeria, including the promotion of African art all over the world,” Omatsola concluded.

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