Exuberance, Forms and the Notion of Self

This winter in Manchester, Chuck Gallery, a new art space refurbished to exude a seamless minimalist design, opens with an inaugural solo exhibition starring leading Nigerian artist, Fidel Oyiogu. His works are an exhilarating collection of significant paintings embracing the glamour of the feminine obsession. Oyiogu’s rhythmic display of loosely flung performers, possessed in ecstatic fervour, explore topical issues with mesmerizing vision and delivery. With top class art programmes and exhibitions forming part of our 2016 calendar, Chuck Gallery comes as a relief and guarantee of a wonderful experience for collectors seeking quality contemporary African art in the UK.

MANCHESTER ― Chuck Gallery is delighted to announce its presence in northern Manchester. A city bustling in industries and commerce in addition to exciting cultural spaces and art institutions—making it one of the most attractive cities to visit, live and work in Europe. It gets even more exciting as Chuck Gallery launches the first art space designed by London-based interior designer Fiona Terry dedicated to supporting, promoting and showcasing emerging and established African artists working in Africa and the diaspora. To begin what promises an eventful project for us at Chuck Gallery we open our doors to the public with a solo exhibition titled Exuberance, Forms and the Notion of Self by Fidel Oyiogu, running from 23rd January to 13th February 2016.

The exhibition brings together a myriad of outstanding signature pieces from 2010 to 2015. The five-year collection highlights divergent currents that define Oyiogu’s practice within this period. They also reference convergent points within the Igbo tradition, philosophy and world-view.

Included in the highlights, which have a retrospective context, is Who Are Mine, a quarter-length study of a male form outlined in clay-red against deep Prussian blue background primed in fine granular texture. The painting suggests an intimate inquiry placing the human subject at the centre of Igbo cosmology. For Oyiogu, self is not an independent entity. It exists in relation to other things from whose position the world is examined. Reference to this belief is illustrated in symbols, geometric forms, idioms, esoteric signs interspersing the portrait. For some viewers this probably draws similarity to the concept of dualism that echoes the phenomenology of Edmund Husserl.

Known for evoking spectacles encountered during festivities in the village square of his home town in south east Nigeria, his imagery includes energetic acrobatic displays, pageantry and impressive kinetic performances. These experiences are enlarged by Oyiogu as it inspires the awe-engaging bodily movements noted in the paintings Dance Rehearsal and Glamorous Dancers. Both pieces are unique for their frontally rendered characters whose sinuous shapes levitate in ecstasy and rhythm. The combination of contrasting but distinctive loose brushworks, luminous yellow and dark blue tones layered with fuzzy black set the works apart.

On display also is Iru-Mgbede depicting silhouette brown forms cast against a dripping flat background with lingering images framed in blurred lines. Oyiogu subtly leads us into the realm of the extraordinary by evoking imageries which float across a complex horizon in largely opaque work such as is observed in A Drift in the Dream where Oyiogu points observers to elements of myth, folklore and storytelling tradition of the Igbos. The artist revisits this theme in Ugo Nma and the Little Elephant, a didactic nuance which expands the narrative explored in his previous works.

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