People’s Paradise, a diverse selection of art forms by Gerald Chukwuma, will open to the public on March 21 at Temple Muse, Lagos.
The exhibition of 43 artworks by Chukwuma, one of Nigeria’s leading contemporary artists, features his renowned wooden slats, as well as new watercolour paintings and sculptures, and powerful installation.
“I try to solve some of our problems and address global issues with my works,” says Chukwuma, 43.
“Many of my works are about human beings’ ability to decide to create paradise. What we do is what we get.”
Based on a theme of conflict resolution, People’s Paradise is a visual narrative of the various constructs that result in social and economical upheaval, and how the human factor is key to success.
Chukwuma says the theme is even more crucial given Nigeria’s current social and economic challenges.
“It is people who can make paradise,” he says.
“I am generally a happy person. That is how God made me. I believe that paradise is what people make it. All our troubles, kidnappings – people choose to do that and people can also choose to do good.”
Chukwuma, who graduated in 2003 with First Class Honours from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, has participated in 20 exhibitions in the last decade across Nigeria, Cameroon, France, Denmark, Holland, and the United States.
To highlight the theme in People’s Paradise, the artist presents a thought-provoking installation called Google Maps, made up of 12 mixed media works on canvas and a large, life-size globe sculpture.
In World Without War, another art work, Chukwuma tries to present a world in which the internet and telecommunications link everyone across the globe, irrespective of age, ethnicity, or philosophical leaning.
In Key Factor, the artist innovatively uses an array of keys, locks, and door handles, plastered over in earth tones to cover his wooden slats. In the background are almost invisible shadows of a male and female figure.
The artist attempts to portray Nigeria’s ‘dog-eat-dog’ society in Black Gold, a sculpture of a multitude of human forms in fibre glass which surge to possess a land and its resources in a pyramid shaped scramble of humanity.
“If we were to divide the oil income amongst Nigerians, there would be no poverty,” Chukwuma explains.
“Every individual is a gold mine. But the figures are pushing and shoving each other. We need to somehow get smaller and get attached so that we can all become big together.”
Other works to be shown in the exhibition include Me, Not Alone, Omo nile, From the Same Mould, Child’s Play, The Four Seasons, Discord, and Princess, among others.
Sandra Mbanefo-Obiago describes the artist’s “creative genius” as technically impressive as well as rich in message and medium.
“Chukwuma’s work is filled with intrinsic forms and symbols which clearly express an African aesthetic, but point to universal truths that are understood by everyone,” said Mbanefo-Obiago, the exhibition’s Curator.
Kabir Wadhwani, Director of Temple Muse, said: “We are delighted to host Gerald Chukwuma for our first art exhibition of the year and to be able to continue to provide a platform for cutting edge Nigerian creativity.”
People’s Paradise is sponsored by UBS, the global Swiss bank, and Veuve Clicquot of Champagne House, Möet Hennessy.
The exhibition opens to the public on March 21st and continues until April 30th.