One of my beliefs about Art is that it has transformed into the fourth dimension. The technically based imaging process now progresses beyond a fascinating oddly because aesthetic efficacy has become obvious in the hands of poetically skilled practitioners.
I have always known Uchay as a man of many parts, so I am not totally surprised by his new approaches. In 2002, I walked into his studio with Nsikak Essien to preview his works for a solo show at that time and we stepped into an environment of beauty. Colour spilled right out of the studio to every available space - wall, floor, veranda, everywhere.
I was quick to comment on the variety of styles he had expressed because he runs the scale from realism to naturalism to semi-abstractions.
A renewed sense of drama has emerged in which this young man’s artistic journey can be felt directly. Uchay has been experimenting from what I see in these collections of thoughtful, innovative installations and paintings. Experimentation has a way of forcing one to constantly invent new ground to walk on, pushing back the limits of thought, technique and language.
As an introduction of modernist sensibility to Nigerian Art is necessary, Goethe Institute no doubt is playing host to a contextual inventive presentation.
Owing to this show “FIGURATIVELY SPEAKING,” Uchay has invented stories and has also tapped into a new space of freedom. He has obviously been adding to his vocabulary of forms and to the range of emotive response that his art can engender.
Looking at the enormous oeuvres which came out of charcoal blocks and chips, junks, old newspapers, broken glasses and varieties of found objects, the goal stretches towards a harmonious balance between structure and a kind of centrifugal expansiveness.
With this flow of visual energy, rhythm concerned with gesture, this is a space to watch. The quest is still unending even as one of the installations suggests - “Time Shall Tell!”
Director General of the National Gallery of Art, Abuja, Nigeria.
Inserted Above: 'Oil boom-Oil boomerang', Medium: Found Objects, Size: 7ft high.
Photo Clips From ‘FIGURATIVELY SPEAKING’ – Uchay’s Solo Show Of Paintings and Installations At Goethe Institut, Lagos, Nigeria.
Uchay Joel Chima Transforms.
By Chuka Nnabuife
'...welcome to my world!'
AS Uchay Joel Chima's Figuratively Speaking, an exhibition of experimental art pieces, opened Saturday, September 20 at Goethe-Institut, Lagos. The most poignant thought line in the show which features installation art pieces and some recent paintings made by the Lagos based artist is transformation. For the artist and customary followers of his public showing career which began around 2002, the show opens another window into a promising studio career.
“Figuratively Speaking is a show that is like a visit to an artist’s studio. Poetically, imagine a fusion of debris of science and the inspiration of art.”
Chima is a 1997 graduate of painting from the art school of the Institute of Management and Technology (IMT), Enugu. He has exhibited his works extensively in Africa and Canada.
Chima puts together a package that joggles the boundry between two-dimensional and three-dimensional art. For the show, he presents a body of mixed media pieces that show his deterity in conceptual art. According to the promoters of the exhibition it is the artist's most recent display of his fecund creativity.
A prior knowledge of the artist's studio output would reinforce this notion. Until recently, Chima had established himself as a convetional two-dimensional painter. Proving his mettle in use of colour, pictorial composition and naturalistic representation of figures and forms, Chima indeed struck strongly as an artist destined to reign in art galleries and home beautifying collections. But something changed early this year (2008) in the artists studio work. He took part in a community-interaction art project facilitated by Germany-based Nigerian artist, Emeka Udemba and the event expanded his creative horizon deep into experimentations in the use of multiple media and adventure into 'light' installation art.
At the project sponsored by Goethe-Institut, which held within the compound of a church in Mushin, a densely populated area of Lagos, the artist tried his hands in using an amalgam of objects to create art piece and he achieved a body of works that were as engaging as they were aesthetically rich. The very positive audience reception of the works must have gingered his enthusiasm to explore further. The result are the collection, Figuratively Speaking. The artist would eagerly inform that the pieces are basically trial pieces, aimed more at provoking thoughts in the mind of viewers. But a deep interaction with the works show a deeper ouvre. Some of the tensions that Chima must have kept at bay in his conventional studio work are now finding free reign in this material adventure tagged Figuratively Speaking.
Possibly his training in IMT which years of practice in a more commercially oriented Lagos art scene, is bursting out. Known for very fertile knack for adventurous mixed media and innovations in the use of materials, as the career of such artists as Nsikak Essien, Chris Afuba, Obiora Anidi, among others show, Chima's tutulage in IMT tend to have exposed him to faster adaptation to the ordinarily unseen visual clues in most of the items he sourced and used.
At the end a more creative artist has emerged and a studio with more healtier identity has come up for reckoning. The artist's keeness to tackles salient social issues with his titles also show an interesting understanding of what the amalgm of media, massed on big boards or stanging freely, and/or backed with performances are heading. Zip Up, Telephone Conversation, Time Shall Tell, among others all tilt the viewer's mind to several current developments in society. Similarly, the materials used in the works, used telephone boxes, cans of consumed foods, cups, plates, cutleries, newspapers and other items – just a plethora of things so close as to rub in many meanings in many minds.
One suspects that Chima is only using Figuratively Speaking to lunch into a broader creative scope which may be seen soon.
The issue in this show is the transformation of a hitherto conventional artist into a more controversial radically minded thinker and social motivator.