Mary Evans, Lawson Oyekan, Emeka Ogboh, Adolphus Opara & Ben Osaghae: The Tie that Binds Us

12 December 2011 - 21 January 2012

Tiwani Contemporary’s first exhibition, The Tie that Binds Us, features the work of five artists: Mary Evans, Lawson Oyekan, Emeka Ogboh, Adolphus Opara and Ben Osaghae. Although this group of artists share a common heritage, each reveals a distinct artistic practice. Using a variety of media including paper, painting, photography, sound and video art, their works engage poignantly with diverse social and cultural issues. The themes raised in these works include: questions of history; memory as it manifests across both time and geographical boundaries; and ideas that foreground, on the one hand, nature as a source of healing, and on the other, the environment as a victim of man's destructiveness.

A recurrent theme in Lawson Oyekan's work is the physical drama of the complexity of nature. His monumental ceramic and sculptural installations - mostly in clay but occasionally in stone - are most often a result of his encounters and experiences with a particular space. His imposing compositions celebrate the energy and power of nature to inspire contemplation, renewal and transformation, whilst also reflecting his concerns about its destruction as a result of human interference.

Adolphus Opara's training as a photojournalist has seen him focussing on the human stories he encounters on his travels throughout Nigeria and West Africa. Moving between journalism and documentary, his attention has most recently focussed on an environmental calamity that the government prefers to ignore. Shrinking Shorelines evokes what has been and could remain: a paradisiacal place where nature can be enjoyed in its original state - the palm-tree-lined, white-sands edge of the Atlantic Ocean. Instead, once again, the destruction perpetuated by man has seen the devastation of a once pristine oceanfront.

Emeka Ogboh works principally with sound but also with video art. Over the past five years, he has been working on the ongoing project Lagos Soundscapes, a collection of audio works that capture the metropolitan pulse of the megacity that is Lagos. In Interludes (2010) he explores the significance of fifty years of Nigerian independence by using archival recordings of the 1960 independence celebrations to examine the promises of the past, now characterised by the deferred dreams and realities of the present.

Mary Evans' patterns, signs, symbols and pictograms are borrowed from popular culture and used to articulate her interest in the social, political and historical frameworks of diaspora, migration, global mobility and exchange. Working in a variety of materials including paper, rubber, paint, print and digital, superimposed on different surfaces (paper, flooring, walls, glass), she makes site-specific installations that go beyond the decorative to highlight her interest in the discourse on notions of 'fine art', 'craft', 'decoration' and 'ornament'.

Ben Osaghae is a social chronicler whose paintings and drawings depict his daily reality as well as that of those around him. A skilled draughtsman and a discerning colourist, an unmistakable characteristic of his compositional arrangement is the presence of floating figures, superimposed on the expansive flat surface of the canvas. On first impression, his paintings may seem to present mundane, everyday moments (Black Out, as an example), but on closer inspection, they reveal his views on social issues, such as the incessant electricity outages that have stagnated the development of Nigeria since Independence.