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ART SALON: CHIJIOKE ANYACHO

 
06 JULY 2024 - 20 JUL 2024

 

Wunika Mukan Gallery is pleased to present a compelling new body of work by Nigerian artist Chijioke Anyacho. Through his evocative oil paintings of deconstructed moments in time, Anyacho offers a profound reflection on everyday life, exploring the vulnerability of loss and sacrifice, and the burden of an unforgiving reality.

 

For Anyacho, painting is a process to understanding, of making sense of his experiences while simultaneously creating something new. Through his own lens, he explores the complexities of relationships and their different aspects within the family dynamic— navigating between displacement, vulnerability, and acceptance. Reflecting deeply on personal and shared histories of growing up without the male parent, his work traverses a realm of unspoken thoughts and feelings that oscillate between unrequited longing and reciprocal connection. This exploration births Anyacho’s artistic pursuit, where he explores a spectrum of these emotions—fear, conflict, submission, and love—melding societal expectation and the authentic self.

 

A splash of many colors is often associated with the beauty of childhood, a season of new birth, or a moment of happiness. It is a deeply nuanced experience that varies deeply from person to person but mainly dwells on joyful innocence and vibrant expression. However, there are times when colors symbolize a weight of diversity and varied expressions, overshadowing their simplicity. Within its layers, it can hold a wealth of unhappy connotations reflecting complexities and struggles beneath the surface of outward brightness. This new body of work particularly draws inspiration from the artist's desperate yearning for a miracle against the backdrop of unavoidable reality. They intertwine a recent experience of his inability to accept his admission into a post-graduate course and confronting issues of his lack of childhood love, feeling displaced within a family unit, and the fear of inheriting his father's traits of abandonment.

 

In “All good and perfect gift comes from above but men are fallible,” a narrative of performance unfolds, embodying a tapestry of symbolism and thematic depth. Inside a scene roughly defined by faceless figures, hands pour green circles onto a small disfigured form held by a male figure, supported by a female figure in the distance with a hand on his shoulder. The ceremonial nature is often associated with baptism, a sacred admission into the Christian faith, and the presence of these elements does not celebrate but instead plays at the contradictory nature of religious institutions. The green circles, an unconventional representation of holy water, symbolize purity and renewal, yet their imperfect form hints at the human imperfections that mar even the most sacred rituals. The faceless figures represent the anonymity and universality of faith, suggesting that the experiences depicted could belong to anyone within the religious community. However, their lack of identity also underscores the depersonalization often felt by individuals when confronting rigid institutional doctrines. The disfigured form, held tenderly by the male figure, embodies the vulnerable and marginalized—those whom society and, paradoxically, sometimes the church itself, deem imperfect or unworthy.

 

The narrative and imagery of the scene convey a message about the inconsistencies within religious institutions. While they aim to embody divine principles, they are often marred by human imperfection, leading to exclusion and hypocrisy. This depiction serves as a reminder of the need for compassion and understanding, urging a return to the true essence of faith that celebrates and uplifts every individual, regardless of their circumstances.

 

In the paintings, “When the kids are suddenly quiet, you will become worried,” and “I want to become the man my father wasn’t,” there are reasons to be subjected to religious scrutiny. They juxtapose the positions of being distant and close; in the former, the male and female figures are a few meters apart while in the latter, the two male figures are close, almost merging into one. They prompt a reality of a distant parent, representing a desire for reconciliation and a deep yearning to break the cycle of detachment and absence. In this series, the artist portrays scenarios of his life, prompting viewers to reflect on our place in the world and the complexities of human relationships. Individually powerful yet collectively cohesive, these artworks represent his first 'body of work,' centered on introspective reflections of his childhood and personal growth.

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