Friday, December 21, 2007
Telling The African Story In Paintings
Already published in the National Mirror Newspaper
By: UZEZI EKERE
For centuries, visual art has been a strong tool of communication as it tends to portray the mind and thinking of the artist as well as the situation of the time.
Today, it is not so different because more artist have become more open minded about their works.
In the first week of September in Essex England, Redbridge Museum and Central Library will be exhibiting the works of Titus Agbara in a solo show with theme Scapes from Africa.
Art is life and the message it communicates in different languages and manners depending on the viewer is what makes it unique. Hearing tales about Africa can never be as enthralling to Africans resident in Africa as it will be to blacks in the Diaspora, people who have visited Africa, and those still yearning to hear about the continent that is preceded by more negative news than positive ones.
The Nigerian born artist Agbara is on a mission to deliver a message with this exhibition. “As an artist I always enjoy the fleeting essence of nature on our environment,” he said. “It gives me a glimpse of perfect happiness in this life of uncertainties, which is why my future goal is to touch the lives of people, and if through my painting, someone can be emotionally balance in the soul, mind and body, if I can bring joy into their hearts and it is cherished, then I’m happy.”
The artist who says he enjoys combining traveling with art, draws his inspiration from his environment, as is reflected in the works that he will be exhibiting in the show that begins on September 3 till 8, 2007.
“All my life had been in Africa. Moving to an entirely different geographical area in terms of climate, culture and race, definitely bring nostalgic feelings. There is this saying "home sweet home", so I always reminisce home. I have chosen the theme "Scapes from Africa" to reach out to the blacks in Europe and tourist who have visited Africa, through my paintings to see what they have left behind.”
Titus Agbara presents very colourful works that leaves little doubt in the minds of his viewers regarding his statement, as each painting has a story to tell.
Born in Lagos, Agbara is a product of the famous Auchi Art School, graduating in 1999 and honoured for his outstanding performance as the best graduating student. Since then, immediately after his National Youth Service Corporation, NYSC, he decided on being a full time studio artist.
The artist, who was part of last year’s Mydrim Gallery Annual Pastel Exhibition show, sees his coming show in London as an opportunity. “Painting is a visual language, it is what you see and appreciate,” he said. “The galleries in London are there to promote artists and their works if they meet up to their standard and requirement. Most galleries have a definite house style or policy regarding what type of art work they are interested in and it’s a good idea to research this carefully so you can present your work professionally then your success rate will be high. Moreover, there are a lot of opportunities here for artist to explore their talent.”
Just before going to London, Titus Agbara spent a couple of months in Ghana for a residency programme.
“That happened through applications and interviews. I was selected for an art residency programme to Ghana for three months under the tutelage of Prof. Ablade Glover and it was sponsored by the Ford Foundation through Terra Kulture, promoting cross cultural experience between Nigeria and Ghana.”
He described that experience as an avenue that helped to establish links with other artists, organisations and art professionals, establishing a mutual exchange of ideas, experimenting and trying new approaches.
“In the course of the art residency in Ghana, as a landscape and figurative painter, I used it as an opportunity to search for natural places that intrigues me. And to this, arose some of the paintings I have done for this coming exhibition.”
Nevertheless, Agbara isn’t in London just to exhibit for the fun of it and move on to other things or projects. He hopes that with his paintings as a medium, he can communicate effectively and give back to Africa, what is due her.
“For the period of time that I have been in the UK, I have attended workshops, talks and concerts. Some aim at tracing blacks back to their root. And I found out that many have forgotten where they come from. I personally interrogate few people about their background, and really it’s been a long way from home, believe me. Putting up this exhibition will enlighten them and portray natural places in Africa as site where you can find peace and tranquility.”
Although he has had twelve selected group exhibitions, this will be Agbara’s first solo show, after which he will be heading for South Africa, later in the year, for another solo exhibition.
“I’ve been nurturing the idea of a solo since 2004, it lingered till 2006. And when the time came, the exhibition took place but had to be a duo show because I was away in Ghana.”
According to the artist who says he has chosen palette knife painting, he describes himself as an impressionist with a tendency to realism. “People get fascinated by the unusual textural effect, different knife strokes and the variety of interesting edges I could achieve with the knife.”
Getting inspiration is usually no problem for this artist. “My heart is glued to beauty nature has bestowed on human environment. Due to the hustle and bustle in the city, seldom do people take cognizance of the fleeting essence of nature. All these get me inspired in my search for natural places to express my inward mind with colours.”