By John Owoo
(In Accra – Ghana)
When it comes to showcasing some of the most innovative, provocative and stimulating contemporary art in Ghana – Gallery 1957, located in the swanky environs of Kempinski Hotel in Accra – immediately springs to mind.
Currently on display are large-scale paintings by the Nigerian / German artist Chidi Kwubiri that comment on the power, influence and dominance of music, dance and the arts in general on creative souls and the public at large.
Titled “motionEmotion”, the exhibition encompasses fifteen remarkable acrylic works on canvass that reflect the essence of festivity, joy, gloom, vigor, hope and other emotions that are aroused in people when they hear music or watch dance performances.
Largely in monochrome, it features images of female dancers, which obviously accomplishes something quite essentially simple – proof of the fact that the human body is a living thesaurus – and when in motion are perceptibly unconstrained by any language barrier.
With images of musicians including the legendary Fela Anikulapo Kuti, the exhibition is utterly saturated with rap, hip hop and pop culture that have been juxtaposed against a calculated pace of live music that is compelling and imaginative.
Curated by Sandra Mbanefo Obiago in collaboration with SMO Contemporary Art, Kwubiri’s work embodies a multi-layered, almost opaque world of visual consciousness. Submerged in a myriad of dots and drips, his works reveal expertly rendered hazy outlines of figures that appear to be in perpetual coordination.
Unquestionably – his paintings, which include low-spirited looking portraits, emphasize the influence of agreement against socio political tensions arising out of the dramatic increase in migration – especially through perilous forays on the Sahara desert and the Mediterranean – which is gradually becoming a sea of death.
Trained at the Art Academy of Düsseldorf (Germany) – Kwubiri, who grew up in Nigeria and relocated to Germany, equally makes succinct analyses of cross-generational rhythms that recall the works of iconic musicians and artists from various parts of the world.
Kwubiri’s selected group and solo exhibitions include – LebensWert Arbeit, Museum Am Dom, Trier (Germany 2018); Ich Bin, Weil Du Bist, Museum Am Dom, Trier (Germany 2017), Italia Docet and the 56th Venice Biennale, Venice (Italy 2015).
Others are Casablanca Biennale, (Morocco 2014), Mother Tongue, Temple Muse, Lagos (Nigeria 2013), Theme Africa, Phillips de Pury, New York (USA 2010), and The Internationals, Millenia Gallery, Orlando (USA 2004).
Obiago is an art collector and curator, photographer and an award winning filmmaker. She runs SMO Contemporary Art, which promotes the best of African creativity through exhibitions and events in non-traditional gallery spaces.
The exhibition, which follows a two-week residency in Accra by Kwubiri, ends on Monday July 30.