[On Ibo Masquerades].
“The African view of art was not an objective or analytical view….the African view of art was an inner knowledge and a spiritual participation rather than a result of a critical or analytical attitude…..
(My) attempt was to carve a spirit-ancestor whom he could not see but whom he could hear, and to project this image to the outer world from his concept of the spirits in the inner world”
“I saw the Ogolo among a host of other masquerades during my brother’s funeral, and it impressed me a lot.
I did a lot of drawings of which I am now painting one after the other.
I have focused on the Ogolo mask for that is closely related to the Agbogho Mmuo and Ayolugbe mask.
It is part of my recent important works (and) a steady flow of thought and development.
I find it extremely beautiful”.
The dynamic but etheral nature of these figures and their masterful treatment with light and color all serve to convey the subtle complexities of human life, the evoking of the transcendental and the sublime beauty of Ibo ritual masquerade performance.
These paintings show Enwonwu at his best – even as he confronted his own mortality while living with cancer; he transmits the sense of liminality with the ease and great sensitivity of one who had a Damascus moment.
His visual interpretation of the Ogolo figure – the gatekeeper to the spiritual world, is a tour de force, a superlative record of of the power and profundity of classic traditional African thought and ideas.
Such ideas (which encompass almost all fields of human activity) ought to be researched, celebrated, rationally updated and harnessed – made part of our operational DNA towards solving our current problems.
Certainly the intellectual clarity and aesthetic prowess displayed by Enwonwu, are a whole universe removed from the planning and execution of a ridiculous kenkey party by politicians and public officials to celebrate a loan; or crude and immature (“logor ligi”) statements on church collections and dues with respect to the value of the cedi. Meehn!!
Of course we know that politicians are not by definition immoral people, but the current crop does everything to test our patience and civility with their insidious infelicities, don’t they?
Their default position appears to be one of either saying or doing something banal or absolutely absurd as their puffery and bombast continue to hold sway with us.
We must sit up and quickly too; Ogolo’s day awaits us all.