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With creolisation, Egharevba, Akpang interrogate future Artform

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Dr. Akpang showing his work to guests


The artists, Sukanthy Egharevba and Clem Akpang, both based in Calabar, the Cross River State capital, recently thrilled their audiences in an exhibition titled, Creolisation. The duo took their viewers to the future, presenting things likely to happen to the world on canvass.

Held from April 12 to18, 2021 at Calabar Sports Club, the artists engaged different mind-blowing works to send home their message.

With the success recorded in Calabar, the artists plan to continue the show in Lagos and Abuja respectively, in June and July.

Commenting on the works, former Governor of Rivers State and a one-time Minister of Arts and Culture, Brig. Gen. Anthony Ukpo (rtd.), who was the guest of honour, said the works reflect the challenges brought about by COVID-19 pandemic, adding that his increasing passion for the creative industry even after leaving government inspired him to grace the show’s opening.

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He recalled that as a state governor and later minister, he promoted arts and culture locally and internationally, noting that exhibitions such as Creolisation promote culture and humanity.

Some of Egharevba’s works including, Dreams and Realities, A Search for Fertility and Adolescence bring to light the challenges women face from childhood to puberty and adulthood.

Egharevba, a Sri Lankan married to a Nigerian, said the show was all about ‘coming together,’ adding that the themes are about women.

The Cross River State University of Technology, Calabar, Art teacher noted, “I am a woman, but not a feminist. I like to talk about female issues.”

She said that artists and designers have stopped seeking the world through the ‘localised or discipline-specific perspective, but through a globalised and multidisciplinary lens, as cultures/disciplines continue to merge.
Disclosing her observations, she said multiculturalism and identity have taken a direction she described as ‘conceptual Creolisation.’

For Akpang, a senior lecturer at the Department of Visual Arts and Technology, Cross Rivers State University of Technology, Creolisation 2020 present a visual dialogue around what he described as ‘theoretical premise,’ noting that it is all about ‘new diversity.’

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“The exhibition promotes cultural hybridism, genre intersection and multiple modes of material experimentation re-invented through painting, sculpture, installation and digital arts, as an expression of this new modernity in the contemporary artworld,” he said.

Taking an overview of the diverse challenges confronting different countries and the world in general, he noted that a paradigm shift in leadership is urgently needed in leadership, arguing that it is time for women across the world to takeover leadership from men.

“I am suggesting a new doctrine of necessity where women should take the front seat, while men take the back seat,” he said.

On multiculturalism, Akpang said the contents of the art works on display are enough to boost discourse on the subject. Akpang noted: “The re-contextualisation of Nsibidi, Adinkra, Uli, Tiv and Tamil traditional graphic systems into leitmotifs for modern art to instigate a rethink of today’s creative and expressive notions (art and design) is a crucial conceptual and methodological feature propagated in this show.

“And with the overarching promotion of appropriation, hybridisation and visual translation, as a creative viewpoint, the joint show offers a new kind of gaze on contemporary culture, art, aesthetics and identity as a specific globalised perception hinged on trans-national artistic/cultural dialogue, bridging traditionalism and contemporaneity, art and design, as well as African and Asian cultural idiosyncrasies,” he said.

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According to the artists, Creolisation is largely based on translations, subtitling and generalised appropriation of existing cultural forms and visual idioms transformed into new realisms, or on the merging of various genres of expression into a new stylistic vision.

They noted that the artworld is currently reconfigured to an age of globalization, saying the areas of such global contents include travel, migration, increased communication, technological advancement and cross-cultural meta-influences, which are affecting how creative professionals live and produce their works.

The artists argued that the crux of contemporary expressionism is defined by aesthetic paradigm, noting that today’s art explore the boundaries between cultures and continents, art and design, art and science.

“We are entering the era of universal modernism in which the artist becomes a contemporary traveller, who passes through different signs and formats, deriving impetus from such passage for his/her artistic gains. This evolution can be seen in the way works are made with new forms, lines, signs, re-invented leitmotifs and juxtaposition of various cultural visual idioms, drawn both in space and time, materialising trajectories rather than destinations.”

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