Sunday, August 15, 2010

"...Much Strings Attached!"

“ We are simply designed for making connections! For this exhibition, and with this in mind, I have elected to work with materials that I believe are synonymous with the notions ofbonding, togetherness, intimacy and entanglement: strings, ropes and knitting wool. In an era where global upheaval; whether natural, economic or social are the issues of the day - in terms of survival, there is a desperate need for people who can and want to make a positive difference to others.
‘Much Strings Attached’ is a phrase I have created to refer to our fear of commitment in all societies where we are often forced to be our brother’s keeper. It is also my belief that everyone is needed, even if we do not feel like we are. This thought might in itself provoke a debate on the platform of Western and African cultural points of view on the subject of social responsibility. I believe that the resonances of my preferred materials instantly infer a need to revaluate and, more importantly, to strengthen our relationships with those around us, in the interest of supporting one another through current difficulties. We are very much attached to one another with much strings. ”

- Uchay Joel Chima 

                                                              Dance Of Intimacy ii


Arc Gallery, London, was proud to host ‘Much Strings Attached’: an exhibition of new works on societal and relational themes by Uchay Joel Chima. Based in Lagos, Nigeria, Chima is one of the most creative artists to have emerged in recent years. He uses mixed media in the creation of intellectual and aesthetically engaging works that captivate the viewer with their sensory appeal.

An intelligent artist, Chima is a seemingly quite individual, with amiable personality anda ready smile, whose works explode with energy and colour. The studied consideration he gives to his materials means that his work dextrously synthesises ideas in order to merge social and environmental discourses together with his aesthetics. Already an established artist in his homeland, I have no doubt that this exhibition at arc will help further the reputation of this rising star as he brings his work to a global audience.

- John Egbo (Director, Arc Gallery, London)

                                                                 Girls in the hood

                                                               Circle of friends

 Bridges That Bind

 Jean Joseph and Christopher Yianitsaros

 Uchay Joel Chima’s conceptual weaving together of human attachments entitled ‘Much Strings Attached’ is a relevant and timely approach to our modern conflict of relationships  with each other. This socio-visual enactment – a treatise on human interaction, translates a convoluted currency of natural and synthetic materials, such as string, wool, rope and tarpaulin into organic figures. Chima has woven images of camaraderie, community and intimacy with lace-like intricacy. The muted shades of oil and acrylic express the densities and struggles with our tactile nature versus the avoidance of responsibility. 

                                                               Emerging Chiefs i

More robustly, his Emerging Chiefs I & II, reach out from the canvas to assert their authority. The featurelessness of the figures might be communicated as a proverbial call for courageous leadership within each private individual, if he or she chooses to come forward. And the strings that bind and unbind us to each other and issues we prefer not to face; disunity, disagreement and social upheaval are gently evoked in Relationship Blues. 

                                                                  Relationship Blues

There is a movement and, stillness in these profoundly haunting scenes. The experience on encounter with the Dance of Intimacy, or Collective Responsibility, is an astonishing unfurling of pre-history. The impression is of fossilised entities escaping from a paleontological prison within slabs of limestone. The subject of gender is explored in works such as Girls in the Hood, Friends I and Circle of Friends II. In these works, Chima uses circles to imitate the curves of the female form. This is particularly interesting as the circle is traditionally gendered as ‘female’ due to its association with the maternal enclave of the womb. A plea for mending fractured societies is implied and an association might be interpreted between the binary of feminine spheres – mending, healing and restoring with masculine-prone destruction and conflict.

                                                                      Wellwishers i

Works such as Relationship Blues and Dance of intimacy I & II are multifaceted pieces where Chima uses music and dance; famously described by George Bernard Shaw as the “vertical expression of a horizontal desire…” to explore notions of closeness and intimacy. ‘It takes two to tango’ Chima reminds us, indicating that the act of dancing might be solitary, but when involving two or more people, perfect synchronicity is not always achievable and responsibility must be shared to arrive at a resolution.

                                                                    Brothers' Keepers

The tendency to engage in conversations or to culturally dissect this subject of being “our brother’s keeper” is to be expected and can only complement these works, as a message requires a response or reaction. These conversations might touch on what typifies relationships and responsibility to each other in the West, as opposed to a developing nation, a city as opposed to a rural area. The social practice in a major metropolis like London, it may be argued, would be to shun human responsibilities outside a familial or immediate circle: To err on the side of caution, for purposes of self-protection and survival in our modern technological society. Yet Chima’s paintings of encrusted colour speak that, “we are still in desperate need of people who actually can and want to make a positive difference to others.” This is a universal need in any part of the world, in any community and, as humanity reacts positively in a crisis, so Chima creates positive entanglements on the canvas. Humanity reacts effortlessly as the soft blending of colours in Socializing and whips up a storm of energy in Festivity I & II.

                                                                 Emotional Attachment i

Did Chima’s “search” for his materials require physical steps, or serendipity of the mind?It was the Swiss artist Paul Klee who said that drawing is “taking a line for a walk”. In turn, Chima has taken his materials for a walk within this painted environment of our human conscience. Hope lies in the delicate web of ‘bridges’ linking these figures and the metaphorical glue that holds us together. Chima has created the theme on which toexplore attachments and we, as viewers, are an intrinsic link to this act of living connectivity.





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