Journey to Mastery Exhibition at DIDI Museum features Ayoola and Uche Edochie. It is a celebration of the respective journeys of DIDI Museum and the two artists. A celebration of the journey of DIDI Museum in the collection and preservation of African art that spans over six decades and a celebration of the journey of self-expression, engagement, discovery and poetic narration the two artists have embarked on over the years.
The exhibition opens on the 18th of April and will continue till the 27th of April. Ifeoma Dozie and Ceejay Jibunoh, the children of Chief Newton Jibunoh are curating the exhibition. It is only natural that Newton Jibunoh’s children are curating this show, as they were born and raised surrounded by art. Paintings and sculptures were their tapestry, their visual stimuli.
Their entertainment, their stories. Growing up DIDI Museum, was our home, artists were our friends and artists’ studios were our playground. Art has been part of our lives since our birth, it is in our DNA. One of my most vivid memories growing up was when Kenny Adamson painted ‘Portrait of Time’ an exquisite painting on the walls of our home. As I watched the story unfold, the colours, the vibrancy, his passion I was enthralled by the process, the narrative, the mastery and I felt alive.
The paths of Uche Edochie and DIDI Museum are somewhat intertwined. Uche Edochie’s first encounter with DIDI Museum was in 1999 when he had a solo exhibition titled ‘Soul Stirrings’. Our paths did not cross though in 1999 but it did in 2005. In that year I embarked on an ambitious art project for my company which involved working with 12 artists to commission art pieces, paintings and sculptures, that will be featured in the official annual calendar of the company.
As though our paths were destined to meet, Uche was one of the 12 artists I worked with. The 12 submissions were an impressive collection but Uche’s painting was our hero piece. The skills, emotions evoked and the narrative was in a class of its own. Uche is not just a visual artist, he is a poet. It took me another 15 years to acquire a painting from Uche for a number of reasons. Uche took a hiatus from the art scene to pursue his other passions but thankfully, he is back.
My first encounter with Ayoola was in 2005, the buzz, hype and excitement about the Blue Woman series was omnipresent in that year. I heard about the series’ first before I saw it so I was quietly intrigued and keen to see her myself in person. When I first saw her, I was mesmerized. I felt deeply and I knew that she had to be part of my collection.
It struck a chord in me and reignited a familiar question I entertain with myself ‘Are our roots an anchor or a shackle’? Ayoola’s work has a piercing honesty that is deeply personal and refreshing. The Blue Woman series is bold, regal and her eyes speak volumes. To know the work is to know the artist but to meet the artist is to live the work.
Curator of Journey to Mastery Exhibition