• Tuesday, March 05, 2024
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Such is Life: Okoye’s stoic paintings survey personal, communal experiences of acceptance



Okoye Chukwuemeka John, Nigerian visual artist, is in his element, with his debut solo exhibition set to commence on May 13, 2023 at Mitochondria Gallery, in Houston Texas, USA.

Okoye is following up on his successful group exhibition, which took place in the fall of 2022, where his classical realism portraits enamored art lovers, collectors, and critics in attendance and afar.

Okoye savored the moment, after which he delved further into his artistic practice to conjure a new body of work inspired by capturing a glimpse into moments from everyday life. Moments of peace, overwhelm, sadness, joy, fatigue, love, and perseverance. These are experiences shared by all of humanity.

He employs his palette knife, paint brush, and oil paints to create portraiture in the style of realism to render the aura and dramatic forms of his subjects in a state of equanimity.

“My environment was not in favor of me becoming an artist. I felt art was something I can use to provide solace to people. I was not the best at writing or using other forms of communication to convey my thoughts, but I discovered that people understood and could relate with my thoughts and imaginations through the art I create,” he said.

As well, his paintings seek to remind us that in times of turmoil we need to take time to find peace and focus on our mental and emotional well-being.

In the paintings being presented at the exhibition, Okoye depicts varying narratives of acceptance of life’s moments from the perspective of a young adult living in eastern Nigeria. He meticulously captures the tones of the subject’s expressions in solitude, using warm colors, light, shadows, and texture to generate compositions which convey emotional depth.

“Such is Life”, shows us that acceptance is a journey. The exhibition asks us to embrace life for what it is and to never lose hope for a better tomorrow.
Such is Life will be on view to the public at Mitochondria Gallery from May 13 to June 3, 2023.

Read also: Children artists on the rise

Okoye Chukwuemeka John is a Nigerian based artist, born on January 13, 1997. He studied art at the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State. Being a realistic painter has always made him feel he has a voice even when he is not there to talk about his art.

Over the years he has always been inspired by his emotions and those of individuals around him. Having engaged himself in different ways with people he has come to realize that everyone wants to be heard, everyone wants to say or talk about how they feel, but some can’t because no one is there to listen to them due to social, cultural, political, and historical issues.

He sees his art as a voice for himself and all those who can’t voice how they feel. He uses thin and thick layers of paint to create illusions of people’s emotions, through their facial expressions and body gestures. His preferred mediums of expression are oil on canvas and charcoal on paper. He trained under the realist master Dennis Ani.

Okoye’s debut group exhibition occurred in the fall of 2022, at Mitochondria Gallery, where he garnered attention from art critics and collectors from North America to Asia, and beyond. Okoye’s artistic recognition continued to blossom as he was selected as one of the standout emerging artists to participate in the Thurgood Marshall College Fund benefit (Fall, 2022) which featured renowned artists such as Sam Gilliam, David Hockney, Roy Lichtenstein, Sarah Slappey, Derrick Adams, Kehinde Wiley, Amoako Boafo, and Jeff Koons. In the spring of 2023, an Untitled painting by Okoye was featured in Sotheby’s Modern and Contemporary African art at their London location.

Works by Okoye are part of private collections across Africa, North America, and Europe such as CCH Pounder collection, Batra family collection, Hobdy Family collection, Ebert Collection, and Oluwole Omofemi collection.