By Simeon Mpamugoh
Mounted at Art Twenty One, Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos, is Index of Season 11, an ongoing exhibition of sculptures. The theme of the exhibition is not another talent hunt but a thematic construct that interrogates a season of four years of political circles Nigerians undergo without let. Index Season 1 came up early this year in Atlanta, United States of America.
The artist explained during the opening of the exhibition recently, “In a bid to represent the electorate, they come together to elect, and something changes. Using that as a metaphor but putting something one can see, which is like hiding the meaning behind, yet one can see what to enjoy. So, if you like it, you could call it something else.”
The solo exhibition of this renowned mixed media artist is a showcase of 30 pieces of artworks created over the past two years. The sculptural pieces combined discarded metal fragments to form hybrid and abstract installations. “I don’t use the word ‘recycling; to describe my work, rather ‘repurposing’,” he said.
It is part of his curiosity to investigate where the nail came from. When he sees material that has contact, it has certain energies that speak to him. “And that is what propels my work,” Amoda informed.
The artist, who is one of Nigeria’s most celebrated visual artists, often incorporates rusty nails, metal plates, bolts, pipes and rods, that are welded together to create figures, animals, flora and ambiguous forms in his works. He uses these materials to explore sociopolitical issues relating to Nigerian culture, including gender, privacy, consumerism and economic distribution.
He declared, “I see myself as a modern day archeologist, which means that I don’t have to excavate on the surface to see things. Every object has something to talk about to the first user. I’m interested in objects that have contacts with human beings. And, by so doing, I’ll be able to live in the period.
“I also pretend to be a forensic artist, which means a crime has happened; I don’t interfere with materials; I want people to begin to have that connection between the first and second users. So, when people see nails, they have a different look: it is no longer nail that hurts them but one that protects them.”
In Index Season 11, the artist uses leaves as metaphor to address the notion of a nation undergoing political impasse by creating sculptures that evoke the changing colours of the four seasons. He compares the individual leaves to human relationship, bunched together in social interconnections. The leaves are meticulously sculpted as an isolated object, to show their unique shapes and characteristics to form an abstract, geometric mass that binds the sculpture as a cohesive whole; just as the tree’s foliage changes colour in different season, the collective nation goes through different stages and journey.
“It is an attempt to critically draw the audience’s attention to the global crisis of political gridlock plaguing the world today, suggesting that we must consider humanity as an ever-evolving process that shares affinity with one another,” Amoda explained.
In other works exhibited, he continues his investigation into the organic processes of our natural world, depicting insects cross-pollinating with vegetation, as well as circular forms sculpted from repurposed welded nails, cubes and scroll motifs, and using the circular shape as a reoccurring visual element makes references to the globe or human eye. Like the isolated leaves that form a unit, so do his circular sculpture attest to a cyclical pattern of human life. “The nails reveal a narrative of shared responsibility, with each part integral in keeping the whole as one,” the artist submitted.
The female form comes with silhouettes, profiles and closes up perspectives of women. He fixes his gaze at the women’s bodies, hairstyle and dress, capturing the figures in contemplation and in deep thought. Welded mild steel dominates the exhibited works, followed by repurposed welded nails.
Others are works made of lucobond, welded mild steel and plywood, aluminum, mixed media drawing on board and mixed steel. These include: Love Nest, Winter, Encrypt, Marion Jones, Sweet and Sour, Corner Eye 11 and Ensconced; a Tribute to Late Roy Lichtenstein, who, in 1960s, became a leading figure of the new Pop Art Movement. Inspired by advertisements and comic strips, his bright, graphic works parodied American popular culture and the art world.