Thursday, 10 September 2009
TRASH-ING new works by Kainebi Osahenye @ CCA, Lagos
Opening: Saturday, 12th September 2009, 3pm
Exhibition continues till 10th October 2009
Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos is pleased to present an exhibition of
new mixed media and painterly installations by acclaimed Lagos based artist
Kainebi Osahenye. With over twenty years of artistic practice, this current
incarnation Trash-ing builds on the continuous process of experimentation
which has pushed the boundaries of his painting.
Trash-ing signals a new departure from his well-known large-scale
neo-expressionist paintings towards the incorporation of more conceptual
concerns through a format that increasingly borrows from an installation
orientated process. Losing none of his gestural signature strokes, nor the
luminosity of his colours or the edginess of his subject matter, Trash-ing
highlights some of the issues that have pervaded his work for over a decade.
In the recent works these existential, political, religious and everyday
themes which habitually manifested with a degree of playfulness are
presented less implicitly in favour of a suggestiveness which attests to the
state of maturity he has attained in his career.
Osahenye moves seamlessly from the metaphysical to the physical, from the
unreal to the real, foregrounding issues for which he is well-known and
expanding on others such as globalisation, consumerism, man’s inhumanity and
the environment forming the entral(nodal) focus of this new body of work. In
so doing the exhibition’s title succeeds in playing on the multiple
connotations of the word to ‘trash’ to signify destruction, abuse, rejection
and waste. It also serves as an explicit reminder on the one hand of man’s
disregard for one other and on the other, towards the environment.
Using appropriation as a tool, Osahenye’s most ambitious work to date is the
ceiling to wall installation titled ‘Casualty’, 2009. Made of thousand of
beer cans, the work is less about the ‘trendy’ fad in recycling than in
acknowledging the limitation of the traditional mode of painting whilst
simultaneously recognising the abilities and the possibilities of pushing
boundaries without losing the essence of the painterly. On sighting the
burnt cans near a garbage dump of a hotel in Auchi, Osahenye states that he
‘was instantly confronted with thoughts of war, cruelty, melancholy, pain,
displacement, anguish and deformity and I started conceiving ways to install
this large scale work to express the force and the power that I felt.’ Whether
the totality of this and other works of the artist marks the beginning of
the ‘new’ face of contemporary Nigerian painting remains to be seen.
Trash-ing is a collaboration between Kainebi Osahenye Studios and CCA,Lagos.
The exhibition has been organised by CCA,Lagos Project Co-Ordinator/Artist, Jude Anogwih.
Open Mon – Fri 10am – 6pm
Sat 12-5pm (Sun by appointment only)
Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos
9 McEwen Street, Sabo, Yaba
Osahenye raises the bar with TRASH-ING
In no distant future, Kainebi Osahenye’s art works will become part of the cannons for appraising Nigerian artists’ transformation from regular paintings to digital credible forms of conceptual art and global acceptance. Assistant Editor (Arts) OZOLUA UHAKHEME previews his TRASH-ING, a solo art exhibition opening on September 12, at the Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos.
For every exhibition, it is one step ahead of many. His bright colourful figurative and giant size canvasses are some of the characteristics of his ever evolving approach to art. And for many of his outings (Crosses of Life, The cross took me for a walk and Erasures), he focused on issues inherent in cruciform, (crosses) and crossroads, which are commentaries on salvation and survival in a country of plenty.
With the current exhibition, TRASH-ING, Osahenye has left no one in doubt of his direction- credible forms of contextual art- at a period most of his colleagues are not hungry for global validation.
Over the past few years, Osahenye, has gradually raised the bar of contemporary art from the regular bright and bold colourful paintings to installation works that interrogate the system using local contents, especially discarded found items. As a deliberate approach, he offers few large size paintings to pass his strong messages.
Expectedly, the artist will be showing only seven installation works, which the host gallery, Bisi Silva’s CCA, Lagos is noted for since it opened to public in December 2007. All the seven works are large scale installations made from empty plastic water bottles, flattened paint tubes, patches of papers and empty soft drink cans to create different pieces.
Osahenye uses Casualty, a collection of empty soft drink cans laced together to form a contain-like objects that overflow from the ceiling downward to the floor. This reminds viewers of the many calamities of war, famine, pollution and pains people go through in life. Below these cans is a heap of other cans spreading on floor. In between the stringed cans are flags of some countries regarded as hotspots where genocide and mass killings of people are everyday occurrence. Beyond war, Casualty is a strong commentary on environmental protection and global warming issues. For aesthetics, the multiple colours that arose from the burning effect will be better appreciated in a well-lit gallery space, which of course, CCA, Lagos can boast of.
But in Reservoir, Osahenye simply reveals the poor state of Nigeria’s infrastructures, especially pipe borne water, which is almost non- available in most cities and rural communities. He strings together cuts of empty water bottles and stocks them on top of one another into eight-foot cubes measuring about 8ft 4ins high. The lower bottles carry bright colours while the top are without colours, indicating the state of reservoirs including the nation’s foreign reserves.
Another striking work that every painter will give a second look is Crossing, a collection of 34 panels of empty flattened paint tubes nailed to the board. The panels because of its rectangular shape reveal the boundary and border issues addressed in the artist’s past shows while at the same time capturing the cruciform. Significantly, Crossing is a reminder to other artists that what they consider as wastes are items of beauty and capable of provoking thoughts that will shape people’s views. According to Prof. Sylvester Ogbechie, Osahenye’s works deal with humanity’s struggle against subjection and project the artist into definable contexts of conflict.
"The more resolutely anti-commercialism an art work is, the more easily it is integrated into a discourse of art in which its commercialist stance becomes precisely the selling point of the artwork, thus making it more marketable, at least for the cadre of globe-trotting artists represented at the major international biennales and contemporary art fairs," Ogbechie said, adding that the artist’s work is as sophisticated as any piece in any biennale in recent time. Other installations for showing include Crowd and Black out.
The Delta state born fine artist, who runs a private studio in Auchi, said the installation works would be exhibited without prices, but are for sale. He explained that his desire to experiment and know influenced his current direction. "I have always wanted to challenge myself and see how much I can do. Sometime, I ask myself what am I looking for? Now, I have started thinking of a single installation work that will stun viewers. In fact, I am just looking for new ways to express myself…Even if many artists are comfortable, some will still not do crazy works like these. What matters is exposure, not the pressure to provide bread on the table. Right now, I find it difficult to mix oil in a regular palette. I still paint but I am exploring many media while the traditional medium will gradually take the back seat," Osahenye said. TRASH-ING will run till October 10 at CCA, Lagos.