Why I Work With Rejected Materials – Ogakwu | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe

Arts, LIFE

Why I Work With Rejected Materials – Ogakwu

Posted: Jul 13, 2015 at 12:01 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Mixed Media specialist, Benard Chinedu Ogakwu recently made a bold statement with his ‘unusual’ art works at Terra Kulture, Lagos. The solo exhibition entitled, ‘Illimite’ witnessed the presence of a lot of art enthusiasts, collectors and critics. The Port Harcourt based artist, spoke with Sam Anokam about his career.



Could you tell us about your journey in the arts?

I am mixed media artist based in Port Harcourt. I have been painting all my life from childhood through school. I read Fine Arts in IMT Enugu and finished in 2004. Since then, I have been practicing, painting experimenting on fine materials like mixed media.  Looking around, you can see some of the works like Thinking Man which I did with the bark of wood. When you look at the title of the exhibition, it is called, Illimite  in French but it actually means, Unlimited.

The message I try to send across, is that of an artist giving that gift to think unlimitedly and shouldn’t limit ones idea. We have been giving that idea, talent, we should actually make proper use of it trying to do what we can do best as artists. We need to be versatile, work and be consistent. It is not about money because when you look at the money, you might be biased. It is all about passion.  I just have love for the arts and that is why I am doing it. I was asked to define art the other day and I said that art is everything. Before anything in life, you must design, even the car we drive is designed, even the dress we wear, everything around us is art. Without art, there wouldn’t be life, that is my own view of life. The talent that we have been given by God is  just a privilege. We are infact, second to God.  We have been giving ideas to design. Most times when we look at ourselves, you see most artists trying to copy other artists, it is very wrong. As an artist, you have been given that talent to think wide. We really need to think, work, and that is what I am trying to portray in art.

Can you tell us about today’s exhibition?

As I said earlier, the title is ‘Unlimited.’  I am trying to work with rejected materials like the bark of wood something a woman in the village cannot use to cook. I try to use these things, to inject them into treasures like the work I am working now, it’s a project entitled, ‘Stone Age.’ I am working on natural things that you can actually put into life. The exhibition shows it all. When you move round, you can see some work I use net, converse ropes to form texture on the background that Is what I am trying to work on, trying to give the message that we have been given that gift, so we shouldn’t mess it up. You can live up to 100 years and you will find out that you have not even exhausted two percent of that idea, that gift that has been given to you. We need to work. We don’t need to sit down, practice makes perfect.

What are the challenges you have encountered or encountering as an artist?

Just like every other challenges you encounter to succeed, you must have made some mistakes like not making proper sales in exhibition or not having enough fund to embark on exhibition like this. This is actually a solo exhibition, you know what it takes to put up a solo exhibition, it takes a lot. You need to raise some funds for materials apart from the fact that I live in Port Harcourt, I had to cargo all my stuffs from Port Harcourt.  Imagine when I am being challenged funds to actually move the works apart from the fact that we normally have low patronage or low appreciation of art. The way Nigeria is going now, I think there is a huge development in terms of appreciation of arts, of course for you to be an artist, you must come to Lagos to identify yourself, that is what I have come to do-to identify myself. Lagos is where the market is. That is where you get the clients, the collectors, those are the people that will really encourage you as an artist. Another challenge is not been able to deal with the right person. Once you are able to get the right person, I think it would be a whole lot easier as an artist.

What are your thoughts on the consciousness and patronage for art today?

We need to look at it like a gallery like this. You need to encourage the up and coming artists by organising an exhibition once in a while and invite artists to come and exhibit their works. Apart from that, schools need to work on their own terms of art appreciation. More awareness needs to be created.  Apart from that, we really need to take art to the door steps of those who appreciate it. We have a lot of appreciators out there but how do we get to them? I think the media have a role to play in this by getting to the doorsteps of those that need the information that need art. We plead that the media and the gallery here in Lagos and the collectors should come out and tackle the situation.

Informingly the art is a sector that many consider not very economically viable like oil and gas, or the telecoms, IT; how do you correct this perception and encourage patronage of the arts?

Like where I live in Port Harcourt, the kind of affiliated to Total Elf Nigeria, when you look at my card or my title, the ‘Illimite’ you ask yourself what is the origin? The name of my company is Treasure Afrique, Its a French language which simple means, ‘Treasure of Africa.’ I have to use Total Nigeria as an example in terms of promoting the arts. We all know they are into the oil and gas sector but once in a while, they have package for artists. They invite artists from Nigeria, different places to come and exhibit their works and they do it every year. It is not easy to get into other companies like that. During the process of my exhibition, I had to meet some companies for sponsorship of course some responded that is actually the part they need to play like Customer Convert Solution. I am surprised that they responded positively. We need more of them. It is not easy but I think the problem is information. There is information break-down, but once you are able to move and approach such organisations, you get what you want.