Cleaning Up Nigeria… Fine Art To The Rescue
Please, Help Clean Nigeria (PHCN) is how the exhibition is called. Here is a fine art exhibition that drips in every detail with social commentaries upon the political, social, economic and cultural affairs of Nigeria. PHCN is an exhibition that holds a lot of promises for the avid and patriotic Nigerian. It opens on November 20, at the Red Door Gallery,
Beginning with its unusual and absurd thematic acronym of PHCN, the discredited and defunct Power Holding of Nigeria, the interpretation of this exhibition translates to PLEASE HELP CLEAN NIGERIA. A moving theme, one could say instinctively.
The main theme, the need for a cleaning process, steps directly into one of the most topical issues or major challenges confronting the Nigerian state today – the traumatic abduction of the Chibbok school girls that parents across the nation hate to remember – that they claim as their own personal grief. This violation of the innocence has continued to haunt the country, day and night.
The quintessential work which symbolizes the Chibbok schoolgirls’ harrowing experience is named O’Sambisa, a wail of inestimable and echoing proportion from that geographical sphere called Sambisa Forest. Of course, this is a rather nondescript terrain like others across the country which has become inglorious evil forest where innocent and nubile damsels have been held captive for endless days in peppery agony.
One does not need an expert and even a discerning mind to know, as soon as one sees the didactic art work to know that Leonardo Da Vinci’s ‘Mona Lisa’ of ageless beauty and thematic significance has been awakened from her living slumber and transported to Nigeria to speak intensely for these helpless girls. Anyway, before PHCN carries us into the accursed Sambisa environment, in different ways and in terms ofits overall captivating mood, it will only be appropriate to take some closer look at the artist who has brought out these dank and evil emotions in strokes and colours.
Ijalobomo who is a man, an artist and one who qualifies, in every department of creativity, as an Art Master is but a mask. He has chosen to subsume his creativities behind this pseudonym. It is a name coined by this concerned artist-cum-social critic so that he can be so far removed from his art works in terms of imposed commentaries; so that the works can stand alone and speak for themselves.
Back to the PHCN which Nigerians know; it stands for a failed institution. What this arty version of PHCN is telling us is that it is high time the dirt, the refuse that has been defacing the face and psyche of Nigeria should be thoroughly cleaned away.
When asked if this theme of the exhibition is not as a result of the on-going campaign of President Buhari for positive change, the spokesman of Ijalobomo, Humphrey Bekaren says, “It is a coincidence. It is like two minds working side-by-side. While President Buhari has been plotting his ambition to change Nigeria as a Military Head of State and through the long and weary route of several election processes, Ijalobomo has equally been laboring his way through the canvasses to preach the need to redirect Nigeria to the part of desired growth and development.
The thematic range of the works are so telling that one is compelled to question Nigeria’s past and mull about the future almost instinctively. As all the works cannot be discussed individually it will be necessary to create a window to them. This could only make the mood fluctuate between high and low, happy and sad, good and bad, ugly and beauty.
Sticking out of the canvasses in commanding strokes and vivid colours are To Our Children…A Banner With Pains, Calabar Dancer, OnyeOroma, Cockslash, Silhoutte with AK47, Requiem, Dialogue, Grin…Why Grin, Painfully Employed, Year 1970 (Before Corruption), LLPC (Loot Loot Petroleum Corporation) et al.