• Monday, May 27, 2024
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Ezeigwe Ikechukwu, master of zoomorphic painting, thrills with ‘Monkey Business’


Since graduating from the Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife, where he earned a Bachelor of Art in Painting, Ezeigwe Ikechukwu has not relented in showcasing his creative ingenuity.

He largely experiments and his style of painting evolved through the years as he explores new ideas and themes.

The young and daring visual artist, who earlier graduated as the Best Painting Student of the Fine Art Department of Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education Ijanikin, Lagos, has carved a niche for himself across diverse art media, especially in zoomorphic painting.

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Through this unique painting form and medium of expression, Ikechukwu attributes animalistic character to humans, which can represent positive or negative visualization.

Having perfected his zoomorphic technique, Ikechukwu is going all out to showcase some of his zoomorphic paintings in a solo exhibition titled ‘Monkey Business’.

The exhibition opened on April 20, 2024 at Alexis Galleries, #282 Akin Olugbade Street, Off Idowu Martins Street, Victoria Island, Lagos, and will run until May 4, 2024.

The exhibition is a collection of zoomorphic paintings that convey deeper meaning and messages that address contemporary politics, societal ills and economic subjects.

Notably, zoomorphic paintings have long been used to further describe deities and gods, attributing certain animalistic characters to the divine role of gods. Ikechukwu’s sole purpose of this concept is to further describe the hidden personality of humans of certain political or social status by using glaring and unique characteristics of specific animals.

Read also: ‘My paintings are about questions, provoking dialogue’

Hence, visually representing and addressing controversial issues and intriguing compositions and zoomorphic-like concepts are what Ikechukwu portrays in ‘Monkey Business’.

The above allows him to further use his works for art advocacy and challenging societal norms and expectations.

While the collection of paintings serves as a medium to express views on the world around us, the hidden views, there are many enthralling works to see. Some of them are:

‘Loot’, one of the works on display, represents the plundering of African heritages and mineral resources by foreign nations. The painting, according to Ikechukwu, depicts a greedy-looking colonial official, monkeying around with the looted African artifacts in an undignified manner.

The intrigue is that every single detail in the work was captured intentionally, as the painting not only captures the loot, but also the repatriation of the artifacts.

‘Sinister Agendas’ is another intriguing work in the collection. The painting describes the two global pandemics the world experienced; the Spanish flu in 1918 and the corona virus of 2020. The painting depicts the two eras with background prints pointing out the controversial stories behind the facts around it.

The painting figuratively represents the two eras with background text simplifying its meaning.

Other works, such as ‘The Business of War’, ‘The test of a man’, among others are also exciting to behold amid their depiction.

Speaking at the media conference heralding the exhibition, Ikechukwu acknowledged that his art has progressed through intentional efforts and hard work fueled by his passion for art.

He invites the audience to visit and mirror themselves, the society and life in the works on display as they depict realities of the society at large, everyday life and personal life.

As well, in her curatorial statement, Adebimpe Owoyemi, curator of the exhibition, described ‘Monkey Business’ as an intriguing collection of paintings that addresses views on the world around us.

“Ikechukwu is keen on attributing animalistic character (which can represent positive or negative visualization) to humans. He believes that there are lots of commonalities that connect humans and animals and that it will be unconventional to represent the true character of his figures in a matter glaring to all,” she said.

She also noted that the works on display at the exhibition would stimulate imagination, change narratives, and most importantly, create awareness of issues we disregard.

On her part, Patty Chidiac Mastrogiannis, founder, Alexis Galleries, expressed her excitement on the exhibition, noting that Ikechukwu is not new to the gallery, having been part of the Fate residency project in the past.

She also commended the artist for honing his skills a great deal as shown in the quality of works on display at the exhibition.

Meanwhile, in the tradition of the gallery, it will be contributing part of the exhibition’s proceeds to Mother Teresa Orphanage Homes, a shelter for orphans.

However, Alexis is grateful to sponsors of the exhibition, which include; Coca Cola, Macallan, Bombay Sapphire, Mikano, Art-Cafe, Tiger, UPS, Anna Blankson Global, The Guardian, Berol, Schweppes, Haier Thermocool, Nigeria Info 99.3FM, and Cobranet.