Steve Ekpenisi in Diary Of The Iron Bender
Beyond heating or moulding metal into shapes, visual artists, as members of the creative community, have enhanced the aesthetic appeal of the environment. Steve Ekpenisi, a sculptor, is one person, who has redefined the landscape with his metal sculptures.
For nine months, the artist has been working on what he titled, Diary Of The Iron Bender, which is showing from March 14 to 24, 2020 at Signature Beyond Gallery, Ikoyi, Lagos.
He said most members of the public do not know the creative side of a metal artist, as they are introduced to metal via the works of the street Iron benders. He said the word ‘Iron bender’ “is commonly used on the streets and that the general perception is a job limited to creating steel gates, burglary proofs and few civil engineering works.”
Ekpenisi employs diverse materials to create so long as they enhance the collective expression intended. For his solo show, the materials include, discarded metals, electrical and electronic wastes and other household items, which the artist translates into shapes and forms to generate masterpiece sculptures.
Featuring 15 sculptures, the works are thematically arranged such that they inspire, evoke or create moments of reflections for either individual or collective value, just as each of the exhibits radiates resplendent aesthetics.
For example, a headless sculpture of full legs and half body titled, Mental Slavery, speaks so much of the artist’s creative energy. Ekpenisi said the work, chained from waist to floor, defines how slavery is, most time, a self-inflicted injury that makes progression impossible for most people.
As much as the world is full of negative stories that are either directly or indirectly related to the breakdown of value, Ekpenisi still finds virtue in some women. This much he captures in Symbol of Honour, the bust of a lady with so much facial elegance and message to the world.
Breathing over whatever may appear to be an obstacle is a full figure titled Against All Odds, standing with so much energy and aplomb. Clearly a female sculpture, the work also brings high expectation, suggesting that no matter how fragile a situation is, there is always a will to leap ahead.
Ekpenisi recalled that the 15 sculptures to be exhibited are as a result of his daily activities during nine months period.
“I am very passionate about art, metal sculpture to be precise. I slice discarded metal sheets into smaller flat bars and units to create or weave into sculptures and forms. My form of metal sculpture is unique and distinct in the sense that I do not create armature for my sculptures. Rather, work from one part of the object to another. For instance, when I want to create metal sculpture of any animal, I start from creating the eye balls, and then link them to the body, then work to the limbs. I also use discarded automobile parts, cans of different products and household items for my artistic exploits.”
Over the years, he has taken metal as his medium of expression. He meticulously work with discarded metal plates, rods, stainless steel, mild steel, scrap metal and disposed cans of different products. His sculpture is usually life size or larger than life in both figurative, imaginative, animal and semi-abstract. His creations are of global contemporary standards.