Ogwu’s freedom as a metaphor for human development

A painting titled Strength by Festus Ogwu


Festus Eyitemi Ogwu returns to the art exhibition circuit for his first solo, with the ‘gospel’ of creating an atmosphere of self-determination for all. A painter of deep impressionistic rendition, Ogwu, who has over three decades of post-training practice to flaunt, shows a body of recent work simply titled Freedom, from April 6 – 19, 2018 at More House Hotel Ikyoi, Lagos.

His art profession, which gives wider freedom of expression, the artist says, also inspired the theme of the art exhibition. With combined soft application of colours and brightened surface, Ogwu’s canvas emits quietness. Perhaps, the strength of Ogwu’s visual communication skill lies in the way he allows his subject and space to dialogue, creating enough room for the former to breathe.

Among such works that offer a case study in visual space management is titled ‘Strength,’ a capture of what looks like wild bird in flight. Whatever space the canvas denies the image on the sides, the bird gains in the head and leg-rooms, sharing the beauty of diving. For Ogwu to flaunt his impressionist skills, the artist’s movement of palette knife within the region of the image no doubt takes one into a journey of optical illusion effect.

However, in a few of the other paintings for the exhibition, such as his ‘City/Sea Scape’ series, the notion of ‘Freedom’ appears over-applied. Such paintings, for example, give so much space, allowing the central images to be swallowed, almost into the depth of the composite. Perhaps, such works represent the moderation of freedom, and the need to avoid its abuse. In fact, the key and cautious word, Ogwu states, in expression of freedom are balance and harmony. His impressionistic approach on canvas is a metaphor in the wider expression of freedom, across status of life.

“Impressionistic rendition, which is paramount in this exhibition, is a method of flowing colours together in different directions to form balance, harmony, shapes and placement,” Ogwu explained recently. “If such an attitude is applied in all ramifications, it will give the upcoming ones a total and acceptable freedom in capturing other spheres of profession, which is to say, coming out of the box or having a paradigm shift.”

Ogwu’s Freedom is the second art exhibition at More House this year, in what the organisers promise to be regular shows at the hotel. Last month, Chile Onuorah (aka D’Artist) flagged off the shows with paintings titled Press for Progress, a central theme of International Women’s Day 2018.

Curator of Freedom, Moses Ohiomokhare described Ogwu’s work as extraordinarily beautiful and versatile impressionistic paintings in acrylics. Ohiomokhare’s curatorial notes read in parts: “His impressive landscapes are rendered in beautiful colours and leaves one with the impression he has mastered this medium. This awe-inspiring exhibition is a breath of fresh air.”

The current exhibition is also part of the ‘New Possibilities’ series created by Ora Ataguba, curator at More House.“New Possibilities is intended to evoke and challenge both the artist and the collector to rise above the mundane and familiar to aspire to new horizons of hope,” Ataguba stated when the shows started last month. “The choice of artists is deliberate and intended to perpetuate the theme of the exhibition which is ‘hope.’”

Ogwu (aka ‘Bonya’) was born in 1956 in Sapele, Delta State. He hails from Ugbodu in Aniocha North LGA of Delta State, but practices in Lagos. Ogwu worked at different advertising agencies like Pearl Marketing Communication, Forum Advertising, Insight Communication and Lintas Nigeria. He graduated in Graphics, in 1986, from the School of Art and Design, Auchi Polytechnic, Edo State.

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Festus Eyitemi Ogwu
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