Uwagboe, Uzorka, Andu in Twenty Twenty-Three
The trio of Bob Nosa Uwagboe, Uche Uzorka, Habeeb Andu have lend their voices on the social economic ineptness of the government through their works. Titled Twenty Twenty-Three, the group exhibition opened on April 30, and will be showing till May 21, at AMG Projects, Lekki.
Emerging from the backgrounds of critical art dissemination, the artists are engaging the public on what it takes to assert civic responsibility as Nigeria prepares for another general elections, next year.
In its gallery statement, the associate curator, Ayo Oshodi, said, “The exhibiting artist’ works are embedded in activism, they are always saying something with a message either political or social, like Bob-Nosa speaks on corruption in the political system, Uzorka talks about immigration and the root causes of immigration, what makes people to leave the country, while Andu is focused on educational system such as the kidnapping of school children, the insecurity in the north, and police brutality. All this comes from the personal experiences of the artists, it is very personal to them and it is something every Nigerian, no matter who you are can relate to because people experience this things on a daily basis.”
Known as protest artists, Nosa has his own studio and movement, his style is activism and all his subjects speak on what it means to be a Nigerian and how the system affects us. Uche too always speaks on social issues and how it affects us as Nigerians.
“Andu is very expressive, as it is all about his personal experience as a Nigerian, from education to what you see on the news to mundane things in life, as what we are entitled to as human beings is being violated,” the statement said.
Uwagboe’s works evoke emotions and employ diverse materials seemingly unconnected at first but succeeds in challenging the audience to deeper engagement with varied interpretation and reflection mostly concerned with issues of falsehood, deception, bad leadership and reaching the unreached.
His main choice of subject matters are the provocative characters in Nigeria social sphere, as well as the urban landscape. The figures in his paintings include, police officers, government officials, businessmen and criminals, which through their actions, create havoc on the everyday citizens.
Uwagboe’s paintings of drunk policemen are depicted with liquor in one hand, gun in the other, as well as, human merchants carrying small children on their backs, politicians sexually groping defenseless women, wealthy man hides behind his armed bodyguard. Uwagboe said, “These figures are formed as a kind of caricature, which come across looking animalistic and barbaric, this is reflective of the inhumanity that their actions embody.”
According to Uwagboe, “The poor leadership in Africa and high level of inhumanity practices among men that has become the norm is my primary interest, which I interpret with my arts either offensively or defensively.”
Uzorka’s practice incorporates painting, collage, cutting and pasting, charcoal and ink drawing to examine the process of urban street culture. In a poetic manner, he describes his leaders as not knowing anything, “I, we, us and them.”
The unspoken for one follower said: “As rulers and leaders of us, they are not wise, they do not know anything… they are so and so, they are not intelligent! They are not fit to lead, they are so and so, that even the obvious escapes them…”
Some of Uzorka’s works include, Contrast the Drifters, Open Boarders, Contrast: Them and Us and We and The State of Austere: Desertation. Andu’s works explores social-economic themes and draws inspiration from his environment. He creates his bold arts from variety of discarded materials using form, colour and abstraction as a vehicle of mediation on the plight of the average Nigerian constantly struggling to swim against the oppressive tide of what is happening around him and to make those in authority to learn from their ineptitude and make correction where necessary.
His personal experience as a young Nigerian influence some of his works titled: Particulars 1, Is your friend and Thieves in Uniform. The works add practical value to activism, particularly, at a period considered as most crucial in our history, the artists are calling on everyone to join them in Twenty Twenty-Three to dig deeper, get inspired and find the courage to act by getting their PVC.