Culture, value, essence of Omoighe’s art

HOMAGETiti Omoighe’s solo art exhibition titled Branding Contextual Values in Forms, held at Yaba College of Technology (Yabatech), Lagos, was more than creative expression as it came with great reflection on African culture and values.

As culture is a way of life and resource point to generate ideas in spite of exposure to global theories in formal education, Omoighe’s works seem to be an aggregation of the earlier and current stylistic experiments. It is obvious as she channels fresh trends to confirm her inventive abilities. Perhaps, the most noticeable influence in Omoighe’s works is master artist, Yusuf Grillo, who was her lecturer at Yabatech.

Most of the works on display were done between 2014 and 2016, and the choice of canvasses afforded her the stylistic exploration of forms, colour and context.On the theme, she said there was need for an artist to evolve.  “The threat that pushed me into this is the fact that when you get to school, you see the influence of these global theories everywhere,” the artist added. “We should be proud to be Nigerians and explore what we have as much as possible. We are creative people with different ways of expression.”

She regarded herself as a “student of life,” who keeps learning by the day. “I have been influenced by lecturers and colleagues. This body of work captures the essence of a way of life of a people. For instance, we are surrounded by rust, and I have put in a lot of effort into capturing rust by my choice of colour,” she noted.

“What I have done here is about using transparency in mix medium; water base medium, and of course it is something new. It is a research work and I try to explore into the very earliest form of painting that we were used to in the villages. Also, the disposition of the tropics is part of our culture too; the impressions created from rain drops on the wall,” she said.

“Drawing from the ideas and viewpoints of African forms have proven to be an in-exhaustive resource base for concept and form in painting. It is however important to note the degree of influences of the modernisms and the overlapping contemporary theories to explore possibilities and the variations in expression,” she continued.

The artist said most titles of her works are philosophical in the cultural settings. Such include ‘Homage,’ ‘African Royalty,’ ‘Success is a tall man,’ ‘Melody maker’ among others. The acrylic painting, ‘African Royalty’ captures traditional wrappers of Edo chiefs, dominating the upper background of the painting, and this signifies their pertinence and presence in the palace. The king, rendered in a larger than life proportion, is placed at the center of the pictorial surface with his limbs stretched forward with an assertive aura. The Oba is humanised by allowing one of the palace assistants sit prominently at the forefront of the composition with confident posture.

“While considering the compatibility of transparency as a technique by which African forms can be portrayed, the culture essence according to human cluster in the instance of collective shared experience typical of weather effects in the tropics come to fore,” Omoighe explained. “The disposition of colours and images of rusty roof tops, tree formations and patterns on found objects leaves the impression that informs the subtle fluid transparent technique in painting this set of works.”

Describing ‘Homage’ Omoighe said, “it depicts who we are; we pay respect and homage to whom honor is due. It is part of our way of life, our culture; something we need to preserve with the modern technology, ideology and trends.” She stressed the need to preserve modern technology and trends by developing our culture upon it.  “Our disposition as visual artists has to contribute to development globally, we have all we need, everything and it is high time we started looking at the possibilities of home grown ideology; theory that can back whatever we are doing on visual arts.”

She however lamented the low level of art appreciation in Nigeria and some of the challenges that female artists face. According to her, “How it gets funded basically, it has to do with the passion, when you decide from the onset to pursue a career in visual arts; something must have aspired you into it. In whatever we do, it becomes very important for us to have a fulfillment for visual art practice. There is a challenge for women; it is rigorous in a way for one to practise except if you are going to become an artist, you are going into theories and all of that.  To practise as a woman, you will need some energy and strength. It will get to a point where you will start deciding to build your own home and all of that. Art is a very jealous profession, because of that most female artists are not able to practise.”

Also, in another work titled ‘Age Group’, where teenage girls seem to have posed for group portraiture, a more schematisation of forms tendering towards abstraction. The necks of the figures are usually elongated, while the faces are mask-like with penetrating and expectant gazes.

Omoighe has a word for the younger artists, imploring them to carve an area for themselves with a very broad wide range of creativity. “There is an area for every one of us, it is just for you to discover your true self, your identity in visual arts, and that is a gradual process of course.

Mrs. Olubunmi Davies, publisher of Agufon Journal said the works were refreshing, adding, “There is no particular style; she did her works like she felt what she believed in. We saw a wide varieties of things, colors and styles, etc. I like the body of works”.

Chairman, Society of Nigerian Artists (SNA), Lagos state chapter, Dr. Dotun Alabi noted that, “the exhibition is phenomenon and fantastic, but not surprising. Though it is my first time of attending Omoigho’s exhibition, I was astounded by the quality of her work, the strength of her draft and her use of colours”.

In this article:
Titi Omoighe


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