OLIVER ENWONWU AND THE “POLITICS OF REPRESENTATION”.

By Nii B. Andrews.

The celebrated galleriest, art advocate, scholar and artist; Oliver Enwonwu just completed his latest exhibition at the SMO Galleries.

Entitled the “POLITICS OF REPRESENTATION”; it featured powerful expressive figurative portraits of African women thus telegraphing the complex cultural, political and socio-economic matrix within which they live out their lives.

EBONY (FROM THE BLACK AND PROUD SERIES), Oliver Enwonwu, 2020. Oil on canvas, 62.5 cm x 62.5 cm. Courtesy of the artist and SMO Contemporary Art.

Enwonwu declared:

“I celebrate the African woman in form and rhythm through jewellery, adornment, and apparel, drawing on historic narratives of black female defiance against cultural and political imperialism.”

The artist employs the techniques of the 16th century masters in order to explore, discover and unravel the multiple layers and vortices of identity and history that constitute the specific shared heritage of all women.

BLACK AND PROUD (FROM THE BLACK AND PROUD SERIES), Oliver Enwonwu, 2020, Oil on canvas; 40.5 x 40.5 cm. Courtesy of the artist and SMO Contemporary Art.

In the process, Enwonwu provides for us a visual feast in which his “vivid portraits, depicted in stylish, colourful attire, imbue his subjects with a strong sense of regality, autonomy and self-assertiveness”.

The scion of an artistic dynasty; Oliver is the son of the great Ben Enwonwu; his grandfather was also a reputable traditional sculptor.

He is currently the president of the Society of Nigerian Artists – the professional body for all practising visual artists in Nigeria.

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