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Ohagwu’s lines stroke future ‘foundation’

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One of Uchenna Ohagwu’s paintings.

Uchenna Ohagwu is an artist who has mastered the use of lines to make embossing forms out of his canvas. He creates mosaic-like textures with lines, by piercing through images of optical illusion.

Experimental though, he calls this technique, The Foundation.

“It’s a seven-year-research and experimentation with lines,” Ohagwu reveals during a preview of his debut solo show on this body of works recently at the Weave and Co Gallery, Moor House, Ikoyi, Lagos.

From specialising in painting at the Institute of Management and Technology (IMT), Enugu, in 2003, Ohagwu has ended up in advertising agency’s studio, where he is creating a synergy between painting and drawing. Be that as it may, he has not been exactly far from the mainstream art scene.

The artist says, “I have been involved in quite a few group shows, but my mission with lines is a passion.”

Paintings such as, Ponder-II and Optimist-I (2013) and a drawing, Communicate-I (2011), expose Ohagwu as an artist with dexterity, whose vision is to challenge a viewer’s sense of imagination.

Either in figurative works or streetscape renditions, Ohagwu’s line movements on canvas generate a thirst of curiosity quenched by the artist’s application of hues.

For example, while Ponders-II derives its illusionary effects from bold layers of lines in mostly bright colours, while Optimist-I takes its strength from thinner forms.

In fact, the portraiture of an optimistic lady melts the lines into cubic textures of mosaic-look to create a key highlight of bluish moonlighting.

As a theme for the show, The Foundation, he says, commences the beginning of his journey into a bigger venture, as far lines are concerned.

And it’s all about how he sees his environment via the lines in paintings and drawings.

“The title is inspired by how I see art and issues that surrounds me,” he reveals.

Ohagwu could have chosen the path of direct realism painting, but there was something synonymous with lines and life in general that he felt couldn’t be ignored when he set out.

“Every milestone you achieve in life is like lines,” he argues, explaining that instead of having realism, he chose lines to explain the movement of man to his destination.

Still on his environment, he notes, “generally, there are discordant tunes going on,” everywhere in the country, yet people still go about with hope.

This much he depicts in Beats series 5 with the lines practically replicating the figures and Submission, which is about a couple looking on to God for a change in their situation.

For 16 years that he has been out of school, Ohagwu has not practised as a full-time studio artist.

Does this not create a feeling that he is missing something?

“Yes,” he replied. “I miss something by not being a full-time studio artist, however, I don’t feel bad not exhibiting regularly.”

He argues that having worked on brands for a long time, his understanding of graphics has helped him in better process of creating art.

The mainstream art space of Lagos and advertising industry are like two parallel lines. Ohagwu is very much aware of this difference.

“I am ready to learn from the Lagos art market, starting with this show”.


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