Since May 13, 2023, O’Da Art Gallery has been busy with visitors, especially art lovers and collectors, who visit to see ‘Into The Deep’, a solo exhibition by Chika Idu, a renowned Nigerian multi-media international artist.
Of course, those who have visited the gallery, which is located at Samuel Manuwa Street, Victoria Island, Lagos, are excited at meeting Idu, an artist who effortlessly exudes sheer creativity in his works.
As expected, the artist is enthralling the Nigerian visual art landscape with his creative juices, amid works worth beholding. On
display at the exhibition are 22 current works by Idu, across two media; watercolor and oil.
The works are furtherance of his notable Swimmers Series, a body of work that tasks his creative ingenuity with a mastering that distinguishes him from his peers.
Though several of his paintings are imbued with narrative contents that depict children engaging in various forms of activity; on the way to school, praying or reading, this exhibition is rich with swimming background.
The established painter, and also an accomplished portraitist, is using the swimming scenes to push further the narrative and his earlier campaign for love and better treatment of the environment by all for safer living for human beings.
According to the Auchi Polytechnic trained painter and most importantly, a lover of children and safe environment, the exhibition is aimed at taking his fans and the public further into his art world and ingenuity.
He also explained that the exhibition was influenced by his earlier experience while at Ikorodu, and seeing the way people dump refuse on water, defecate on water, and still fetch the same water for use in the kitchen. That scenario gave him great concern, especially for the safety of the children, their mothers and other vulnerable people who do not have access to good water and whose actions and inactions are impacting negatively on the environment.
“I am the first artist here to paint children because I love children; and I have always lent my voice to children and women,” Idu said on his choice of water and swimming backgrounds.
“I love children because they are creative, they will always invent things on their own when adults deny them excitement. So, I want a safer environment for children and that is why I am lending my voice to making the waters safe for swimming by children and
for other activities”.
Speaking further, Idu said that his paintings have raised conversation on how humans relate with the environment, and while the body of work at the current exhibition draws more attention on the aquatic environment and how it can be friendlier with better treatment
Meanwhile, Obida Obioha, creative director and founder of O’Da Art Gallery, is excited that the relatively new gallery could bring an art heavyweight such as Chika Idu to grace an exhibition in its space.
“This is the most beautiful show we have had in this gallery. Chika’s works made me look for him. He is good,” Obioha said.
Speaking further, the gallerist explained that O’Da Art is about finding beauty and beauty heals the soul. Considering that there are lots of problems out there, he noted that people need art because art heals.
For over two decades of practice, Idu has created and mastered different unique styles and techniques for each medium he works with, which are vast; he has a rare gift of mastery of any of them he chooses to work with.
This is evidence in his watercolours, acrylics, drawings, collages, oils and several sculpture media.
His oils are characterised by a heavy texture and hazy rendition technique, this style of painting is inspired by his observation of light striking against visual imperatives like dust and misty fog, he calls: Light Against Visual Distortion.
Idu approaches his paintings from an observer’s narrative as recording an ongoing dialogue and inviting viewer participation.
For the past sixteen years, he has been committed to exposing the plight of African women and children with his work.
Recently he began an environmental campaign on the health risks faced by children living in coastal slums.
According to the artist, he gets bored with conventional methods and materials so he challenges himself with every medium to discover a new approach, method and style of medium handling and manipulation. This approach of material rediscovery has led Idu to the creation
and mastery of different and unique styles and techniques for each medium he works with.
Idu is currently under international spotlight after being mentioned in two continents as an artist to watch out for in 2021. Besides teaching art at the French School, Lycee Louis Pasteur, Idu works in his Ajah studio in Lagos, Nigeria. He was instrumental in
the creation of Defactori Studios, he also created the first Nigerian Watercolour Society of Artists (SABLES).
He has been a part of numerous international and local group exhibitions.
‘Into The Deep’ runs at O’Da Art Gallery at Samuel Manuwa Street, Victoria Island, Lagos from May 13-June 3, 2023.