In defence of motherland, Idabacha goes Afrocentric Affinities

WHATEVER people of African descent have to offer the rest of the world to prove the potency of their ideals, painter Ajogu Idabacha is explaining on canvas.

In the show titled Afrocentric Affinities which opens at Terra Kulture on Saturday, May 15, showing for five days, the artist will argue that “culture, philosophy, history, economics and the dynamics of everyday life” cannot be removed from African ideals home and the Diaspora.

One of the works, Twilight Skies explains part of these qualities as Idabacha’s brush strokes offer a blend of nature’s vegetation and a background that takes you into some spiritual realm.

From the drawing, The Return, he uses commerce to explain the richness of the people’s essence of economy.

Motifs, he noted, confirm the African traditional architecture, textile, sculpture, paintings and drawings which he hopes to emphasise in the exhibition.

And if a people’s philosophy and other values could be seen in simple body language, Piercing Countenance, a piece which emphasises the eye ball perhaps explains that much.

Over 30 works, he said, are to be on display in what he explained as the first of a series of exhibitions, “which though was not designed to totally revamp African art but rather attempt to redefine its stand in the eyes of the world.”

He declared: “I want people to feel something heavy, ominous, powerful and compelling in my work and at the same time not overlooking the underlining thread that defines who we are as a people with phenomenal ethnic values.”

Idabacha however lamented that despite technological advancement in parts of the world, non-Africans believe that “African art, as it were, has remained the same; expressing themes through paintings thus they still rely on the old method.”

Based in the U.S., Nigerian-born Idabacha argued Afrocentric Affinities is here to correct this impression. “While I do not neglect or even make light the depth of Michelangelo and Leonado Da Vinci, I want the lushness of eclectic art, the immediacy and tenderness of Rembrandt and the non-conformist guts of Pablo Picasso which is a whole new world to explore. In essence though I find the compelling nature of contemporary art very intriguing, I do not distinguish between periods.”

He said, over the years, he has experimented with various media in a bid to express his creative thoughts and found out that the urgency of the work, most times, determined the medium with which he expressed it.

Between oil and acrylic, the artist “normally” preferred to use acrylic, noting that it dried quickly, enhancing time compression. “But whenever I want to pace myself and exercise patience while painting aspects of a particular piece as the creative release comes, I like to use oil because no one can hurriedly finish a work of art that is based on oil.”

Trained at Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, the artist who worked creatively for over 20 years combining his formal training with studio practice said he was long tutored by his father in art before his university days.

“My father was very attentive to detail and he made sure I was just painting without purpose. Daily, I used to get assignments from him, which I had to creatively produce. Sometimes I would do many works which, by self-assessment I consider, at least, ten as masterpieces. But my father would just choose one out of the lots.”

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