Silent Scream: Chika Idu lends voice to the unheard, vulnerable environment

Once again, art lovers, collectors and the general public are in for excitement as one of Nigeria’s established contemporary visual artists set to breathe fresh air in the country’s art space with his solo exhibition.

Titled ‘Silent Scream’, the exhibition, which opened on September 25, 2021 and runs until October 15, 2021 at Sachs Gallery, Admiralty Road, Off Admiralty Way, Lekki Phase1, Lagos, is worth seeing for many reasons.

First, because Chika Idu, the artist behind the exhibition, who is showcasing 35 recent and intriguing works borne out of his creative ingenuity. The works cut across different media; watercolor, acrylic and oil.

Secondly, the well-located gallery is waiting to host visitors as Idu is one of its favourite artists; based on his enthralling and exceptional art.

Again, Idu is using the exhibition to further his campaign on better environment for all, better welfare for children, women and the vulnerable in society.

Taking a look at the works, Ikehe water and Make Me Beautiful are beautifully rendered in watercolour ; My Reflection Is Me, Ndudi I, and Implode are all acrylic, while Last Lap looks enthralling in oil on canvas.

Of course, there are series to look out for. The mask, Ere Inu Omi, Nude, Ocean, Swimming Pool and Hairdo series, among others are some great works to see and buy.

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The interesting thing is that all the 35 works took the artist about three months to finish, tasking his creativity and determination to meet his set goal.

Speaking of the exhibition in his artist’s statement, Idu explained that he chose art as a medium to express his feeling and lend voice to campaigns against ills in the society because everybody with some level of intelligence, according to him, knows that art speaks.

“I know this because when I gaze at my works, they talk back to me, they talk on issues I can identify with, sometimes on stories relating to my past or present experiences in my development and so on, but these new series I have been working on are different, these ones scream but a silent type of scream,” he said.

Speaking on the works, he noted that, The Mask series, for instance, creates a dialogue on the role of women in society as determined by traditional, cultural and religious institutions. “The mask is a metaphor for character, whoever wears the mask becomes the mask as long as it is worn”, he enthused.

He has also observed that women are sadly compelled to be wearing masks in order to act their given roles successfully. “There is a mask for every role, whether it is in family, religious, social and professional circles”.

While explaining the rationale for the title of the exhibition, he said, “The silent scream says: Let me be ME! Silent Scream is also a summary of my expressed frustrations on the realities of climate change and global warming, which is more complicated by the politics of world leaders in their romance with global industrialists and concerned about how these issues affect children, which nobody is addressing”.

For his advocacy through art, he said, “My swimmers celebrate the environment and bask in its richness, I am using this exhibition to send a strong message: If we love the earth, why are we destroying her? We need the environment to survive and not the other way round. Silent Scream is a wakeup call to everybody”.

Explaining the diversity of his works, Idu said, “I was painting oil for a while; then I wanted to explore acrylic. I started to explore acrylic because I wanted to have knowledge of what it is. So I told myself; if I would work with acrylic, I would have to work with a new technique that is different from what everybody does; that is the only way I would enjoy working with acrylic.”

In his forward on the exhibition, Duke Asidere, foremost painter, appreciated the works, noting that the colours, and the pose of the figure show the artist’s strong understanding of form and colour application, as well as being able to distribute light and dark very effectively.

“I have followed Chika Idu’s work from his water colours to his new works. Chika has gone spiritual, I find the masked woman, the women toying with the masks quite revealing. What is happening to the masks? Why are the women trying to fit in the masks? Who is forcing the masks on our women? Why is authenticity a difficult choice?” Asidere said.

Bringing a curatorial touch to it, Udemma Chukwuma, curator of the exhibition, noted that Silent Scream is a representational and conceptual body of work which are in series: The Mask, Nude, Ocean, Swimming Pool and Hairdo series; presenting different absorbing themes. The Mask, Nude and Hairdo series focus on the influence of culture and its impacts on today’s woman, while the Ocean and Swimming Pool series focus on the environment and children.

She invites the public to see the work because through Silent Scream, Idu, according to her, evokes a dialogue, raising questions on whether women should continue to let society and culture influence their way of life, as the artist stirs one’s feelings with the way he depicts the women on canvas.

“With this exhibition, he brings a distinctive perspective through unexpected visuals and new techniques he discovered in the process of exploring acrylic. However, Idu has no name for this unique technique”, she said.

The exhibition, September 25, 2021 and runs until October 15, 2021 at Sachs Gallery.

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