Thursday, September 6, 2007

Okeke, Udechukwu meet Okigbo (again)

The work of two most influential artists from Nigeria Uche Okeke and Obiora Udechukwu will be in two solo shows Another Modernity: Works on Paper by Uche Okeke (originally organized by the Newark Museum last year) and Nigerian Poetics: Works by Obiora Udechukwu. Organized by the Department of Art History and the Sherman Gallery, Boston University, the shows are part of the great Okigbo conference (never mind I still sulk about aspects of the organization). It is always a breathtaking experience seeing those small incredible drawings Okeke produced between 1961 and 1962, in which he asserted his reputation as one of the leading African artists--in the class of people like Ibrahim El Salahi (Sudan), Ahmed Cherkaoui (Morocco) and Skunder Boghossian (Ethiopia)--the first rigorously modernist, postcolonial African artists. And, of course it is impossible to not be in awe at Udechukwu's complete mastery of the line, his visual poetry, which compares healthily with what Okigbo did with the written word. Okigbo inspired Udechukwu's "coming of age" drawings, presented in a show aptly called Homage to Okigbo in 1975, so it will be wonderful to see how far Udechukwu has traveled 30 years after he "met" Okigbo at Nsukka.

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