By Japhet Alakam
Two years after Legacy Empire Management (LEM), made its major entry into visual arts terrain, another successful exhibition has just been recorded by the same artists management group.
At Rele Gallery, Ikoyi, Lagos, few weeks ago, LEM showed monochrome drawings titled Visitors by Austin Uzor. In 2014, the promoters showed Olawunmi Banjo’s solo Mind Revolution at Nike Gallery, Lekki, Lagos.
LEM is a Management Company based in Germany, that focus in promoting the career of visual artists and music artistes worldwide.
On display during the exhibition of Visitors were mostly portraits, depicting ladies fashion and beauty. In the portraits such as Dusty Clouds, Whispers Of Destruction, Pool Of Thoughts, Adorable Allergies, War Head, Anticipants and Untitled, Uzor uses the head as the focal point where the energy that initiates any change is generated.
Yes, the portraits could pass as illustrations for beauty products or services, but the intellectual depth in articulating the argument about individual versus societal norms is also loud in the ebullience of the images.
Uzor goes further by moving his subject into the spiritual realm with few of the works such as Patches Of Light, Food Is Ready, Mud Fences and Ashes and Rain.
The artist notes that naturally, everyone was a free born until society created a system and made people “live strictly by its standards.” As he argues that for survival sake “we traded our values and in so doing have allowed shackles built by society on our wrists,” the question values the individual before birth arises. But values – religious, cultural or professional – are naturally integral parts of man’s extension as members of the society.
The catalogue of Visitors, is endorsed by LEM, which is flexing its muscle as a new art promotion group. With Banjo’s solo Mind Revolution at Nike Gallery, Lekki in 2014 LEM announced its arrival in style.
For Uzor, Visitors is a good start for an artist coming freshly into the Lagos art space. Excerpts from his artist statement: “In this transformation we find ourselves walking around in pain and intermittently in unprecedented joy and controlled laughter as Fela aptly called it, “suffering and smiling.” We do this because society has provided roofs over our ailing heads. Our minds are therefore bound by beliefs which are formed of dust and so our true nature is forgotten as we have transcendentally become visitors in our own land. Our true selves are non- existent and our conscience wanders away and fades off at the dawn of realities like the morning mist that just got ambushed by the rising sun. Society is the new landlord and we are only but loyal tenants at his mercy. This analysis has taken a visual and illustrative dimension as every aspect of our everyday lives has been narrowed down to figurative expressions with Ballpoint pen drawings body of work by me.”
Uzor, according to Legacy made its first major show at the PAN AFRICAN FILM & ARTS FESTIVAL in Los Angeles, California in February 2016.
Uzor is a native of Atta in Imo State. He is a visual artist with creative talents in Fine Arts. He studied Fine & Applied Arts at the University of Nsukka, graduated 2013, since then, became a full studio Artist.