Okey Ibeabuchi & Joel Utuedor May 14

This spring in Manchester, Nigerian sculptor and painter Okey Ibeabuchi and portraitist Joel Utuedor, will become first sets of artists after Fidel Oyiogu’s solo exhibition last winter, to show their works in a collaborative exhibition in Chuck Gallery. The ideality accompanying these exhibits are diverse in scale and in content, with a capacity to dazzle and a prospect for culminating into blockbuster. After the short ensuing break following our last show, it was important to feel the pulse of what is coming out from Africa again.

MANCHESTER, MAN – Chuck Gallery is delighted to present Intransigence, an exhibition featuring recycled-based compositions by Ibeabuchi and sensualized portraits by Utuedor. Both artists, who had been relatively unknown, only recently have started drawing attention of collectors to the brilliance of their imagination.

Ibeabuchi’s early paintings as an artist was known for their intense, coarse and brightly splashed surfaces. This approach has its root in his background as a graphic artist trained at the University of Nigeria, where internationally acclaimed African sculptor El Anatsui was one of his art lecturers. But it’s his foray into assembling decayed woods, thrashed footwears, junk materials and host of found objects to build delicate compositions on canvas thereafter, that became the melting point for his career, and with much of his influence coming from El Anatsui’s engagement with burnt woods, bottle caps, aluminium and sewn fabrics.

Highlights from Ibeabuchi’s works includes Difference. It’s a medium size relief painting depicting ancestral masks. It was primarily composed from plastic junks, sack, wood, and copiously embellished with gold dust. This work is a rare and exquisite piece delighting the eyes as well as appraising the scale of Ibeabuchi’s assemblages which masterfully complicates the line between painting and sculpture. His fine arrangement of wood strips onto sawdust-primed canvas in Team Spirit, depicting orchestral-like performers playing locally made instruments would definitely excite you.

Utuedor’s obsession over forms and beauty continues to fascinate us as extraordinary. On view is Nkiruka, portrait of a young girl set against delicately texturized background. The stylization of her braids, distinct lineal orientation and fine tonality reveals a brilliant architecture that speaks to us directly. Part of the highlights is an oil landscape title It’s a Blue Day. A hazy, quiet and wet suburb, illuminated with flickering lights from surrounding houses accentuated with rustic roofs. Utuedor has a way of arresting us into nostalgia and this painting typifies that with so much genius that endears it to our heart.

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