By Henry Akubuiro
Despite the mounting challenges on Nigeria’s nationhood currently, young Ugo Agoruah has found reason to return home from his U.S base. Through his art, Agoruah projects a bright future just as his strokes on canvas bring freshness into the Nigerian art space.
Making his Nigerian debut solo art exhibition with Finding Forever, Agoruah, on Friday, June 18, 2021, at Nimbus Gallery, Ikoyi, Lagos, Island, quietly announced his homecoming. The artist brought into one space, his U.S-inspired themes and some cultural values of Nigeria.
The display of works were segmented under The Inward Journey, Family Ties, Live Drawings/Paintings and Classical Reimagining. On the Family Ties, for example, Agoruah brought into creative expression his American street experience, motherly love and native Igbo cultural values.
In Mother’s Blessing, a 48 x 40 inches, oil on canvas, 2018 painting, the artist depicted, in graphical capture how a son receives the kissing of his mother on his forehead. “A mother’s love is one that is unmatched,” Agoruah explained. “Make your journey home, to the land of your mother and allow her blessings to reign down.”
Further showing that his roots matter most despite spending a greater part of his life in the U.S, Agoruah celebrated traditional Igbo chieftaincy in the piece titled
Son of This Soil, a 30 x 24 inches, oil on canvas, 2018, painting. He linked knowing one’s roots to the future, saying “so there will be no limitation on where you can go.”
And in The Kool, acrylic on canvas, 40 x 48 inches, 2019, Agoruah saw a “prodigal son” who “walks in the light of his sun.” The artist recalled how the painting was inspired by a friend’s bold style of dressing in Georgia, U.S.
Agoruah’s Finding Forever was one of 21 wall pieces in paintings and drawings. The exhibition was supported by Bogobiri and sponsored in part by Mayfield Lewis of Suga Cane Syrup. In its statement, Bogobiri recalled how the artist “refocused his attention to further advancing his own artistic practice, fellowshipping with the likes of The Markeidric Group and Suga Cane Syrup, as well as participating in over 40 group exhibitions and showcases within the next 5 years.”
The statement explained that images in Finding Forever showed the artist’s range in oil paintings, charcoal drawings, live muse-based paintings, and sketch journal entries from his journeys. The works touch on the subjects including identity, love, sexuality, truth, and appreciation for life. Forever is a place that resides within our consciousness.”
During his journey to return home, Agoruah found “tutelage from Ghariokwu Lemi,” one of Nigeria’s top contemporary artists of over 40 years studio practice. Through Lemi, he met curator Toyin Bello with whom he worked to get Finding Forever exhibited.
According to the curator, Agoruah’s forms in paintings use “strong sense of family, romance and self awareness in order to evolve emotion” such as “discovery in his audience.”
Some of Agoruah’s past exhibitions included Truth 2 Power: Art in Time of Upheaval, Sinclar Gallery Atlanta GA (group) 2021; Ugo Fine Arts Pres, Art Nexus: Realm of Virtues, Azjio Gallery, Atlanta, GA. [Invitational], 2020; and Scattered Dreams, etc.