DAK’ART 2014

11ème Biennale de l’Art Africain Contemporain 09/05>08/06

Chike Obeagu


Cityscape and city dwellers : oil, acrylic, and re-purposed magazine and newspaper cut-outs, 240x180cm, 2013, Courtesy of the artist.
Olowo and Son : mixed media, 63.5x76 inches, 2013, Courtesy of the artist.

Chike Obeagu first experimented with a photo-collage technique as an undergraduate student in 1998-99. The practice started when he was forced to find an economically viable way to express his art. Now Obeagu is known for the geometric and colorful compositions of his collages. In spite of the ways in which collage appears to flatten forms, Obeagu creates depth in his work by playing with size and perception. Disparate pieces from magazine cut-outs unite under Obeagu’s painterly hand in scenes of music, religion, and daily human interaction. City Scape and City Dwellers provides a glimpse into the artist’s home city of Abuja and by extension cities around the world. The city portrayed is crowded and bustling; the lives of diverse people constantly cross paths on busy streets. A figure in the background wears nothing while a woman in the foreground dons high-fashion makeup. One can only wonder about the economic and social differences between these two characters’ lives. While city life can seem glamorous, as depicted by fashionable women and a man in a business suit in the foreground, a closer look at some of the characters in the painting reveal urban hardships. A city provides opportunity but also allows for poor living conditions and high rates of crime and addiction. City Scape and City Dwellers chronicles the variety of stories that a city holds, exemplifying the tension between private life and public life. Obeagu intends for the work to be “a metaphor for the hopes and impediment that is true of the human condition”.

Chike Obeagu is a multi-talented artist who finds creative expression through painting, photography, installation art, and poetry. He was born on May 22, 1975. Chike exhibited great interest in art during the early stages of his life, and had his first formal best student in art award while in high school. He later trained at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Fine Arts degrees in 1998 and 2003 graduating with magna and summa cum laude respectively. Obeagu is a highly dedicated contemporary Nigerian artist and an untiring experimentalist who is well known for his skills, his technical prowess, and the perspicacity of his thematic vision. He has been able to carve a niche for himself in the Nigerian art circle in his search for profound artistic expressions with his photo-collage technique. His unity of design is achieved by a binding organization of parts, lending a somewhat complex but strong directness, even bluntness of mastery of technique that gives his paintings a peculiar expressive force. Thus far, his works have been both inspiring and motivating. His paintings and drawings are always a marvel of sustained imagination that points up his unwavering search for new substance and fresh idioms. His works enjoy wide acceptability within the art circle in Nigeria and abroad and this is a clear evidence of his hard work and commitment to excellence and professionalism. Chike has won several awards including 1st prize for the 2011 National Arts Competition, United Nations Award for partnership in combating TIP (Trafficking in Persons) and SOM (Smuggling of Migrants), W.K Kellogg Foundation/ Ford Foundation awards among others. He has also participated in over 50 reputable exhibitions, biennials, residencies, and workshops in Nigeria and other parts of the world. He is a founding member of Collocation, a group of exhibiting artists, a co-founder and creative director of FAbA (For Artists by Artists) studios. He is also an instructor with Art is Everywhere project, and formerly the principal curator/exhibition co-ordinator of Kambani Arts, a UK based non-profit-making organization engaged in promotion of young and up-coming talents, African visual arts and children’s creative writing workshops. In addition to creative works, Chike has been involved in several cultural initiatives. He is presently a lecture at the Department of Visual and Creative Arts, Federal University Lafia.

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