Transcendence: Taking outstanding talents higher

The ongoing exhibition celebrates two artists with unique works and who are on their way to the top with distinctive styles.

Transcendence, a two-person show ongoing at Thought Pyramid Art Centre, Ikoyi, Lagos, affirms the truism of the saying “, From little acorns, big oaks grow.”

Featuring two talented and upcoming artists, Christian Allison and Ikechukwu Ezeigwe, the show is a deliberate effort by Thought Pyramid to boost and expose talents that emerged on its ‘Next of Kin’ art competition platform.

Fittingly, the artists’ 16 exceptional works – eight apiece, have shown that the Centre’s confidence was not misplaced. They are not at the top yet but are not far off.

Using a personalised technique called ‘anthropomorphism’ for his expressive paintings, Ezeigwe uses animal head, precisely that of monkeys and fruits, to pass sombre and happy messages. For instance, in ‘Smile of Spring’, an elderly man with flowers as chin, bananas, apple, dates, watermelon, and a bird looks over a wooden fence. With one holding a carrot, two white rabbits are playing on the ground as the face beams happily.

It’s a different mood of sobriety and reflection with ‘No Guts, No Glory’ depicting a war general with his tunic adorned with medals and helmet. The face, however, is not human but that of a monkey. It’s the same with ‘Clan Chief’ adorned in native Indian attire and headdress and with a monkey’s face.

The artist expresses his love for anthropology and Darwinism with ‘Theories, Beliefs & Conviction’, a painting that depicts human evolution stages. Ezeigwe also references the Covid-19 pandemic with ‘Rango’, a painting depicting a creature cradling a fish and both bidding the pandemic bye-bye.

“I’m just expressing my thought,” the artist explained in an interview at the preview of the show. “Most of the works express my determination and zeal. I have faced lots of challenges in my artistic quest, and so I chose to be unconventional; to break the mould,” the 2017 Fine Arts graduate of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, added.

While oil is Ezeigwe’s forte, pastel is that of Allison, a hyperrealist artist and 2020 winner of the Next of Kin juried competition. His eight works in the show, each of which took a minimum of four months to complete, are collectors’ items.

He tells stories of the African experience with portraits centred around black skin. Alisson also appears to have a fascination with blending light and darkness in his works. All the paintings, including ‘Little Light 1 & 2’, ‘A Gust of Hope’ and ‘Expressions’, are against a black background.

“I like to play with light and darkness when I’m working. Using black background helps me to eliminate every other distraction and helps the viewer concentrate on the subject matter; the painting itself,” he offered in explanation.

“The play of light and dark on the black skin is usually phenomenal. The way the black skin reflects light is different from every other skin tone, and it’s usually interesting. That’s what I try to capture with my works, using dark and light and how they intermingle to portray emotions. Where you can almost see their experiences from their eyes, they are expressive. They would try to pull you in,” Allison added.

In ‘Beautiful Imperfection 1 & 2’, the artist showcases the beauty in ugliness. Both paintings are of a male and female with skin diseases on their faces. The viewer would, however, be missing the point, focussing on the blemishes alone. The paintings are expressive and offer a window into the subject’s thoughts.

“I was trying to take the mind of the viewer off skin irritations to the absolute beauty; to express how imperfection can be beautiful. What one person might call imperfection or defect can be a beauty in the end. Sometimes, you need to take a step back and focus on the big picture,” Allison said.

Ongoing till April 26, ‘Transcendence’ is a good outing for the two upcoming artists by Thought Pyramid. The Centre has succeeded in showcasing their talents to a larger audience.

As noted by the Curator, Ovie Omatsola, “it is a special ceremony honouring and expressing admiration for two unconventional future masters of art in Nigeria; who are rapidly excelling beyond the ordinary range of imagination of any individual that has witnessed their artistic journey.”

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