"I try to make images that express the basic and necessary elements of human experience - Promise Onali
DIFFUSION takes a critical look at the evolution of consciousness and how our individual and communal identity is affected by history and socio-cultural evolution. Both artists are from Nigeria and explore these fundamental questions from different ends of the artistic spectrum, employing diverse painting techniques and use of materials.
Uzoma and Onali question our collective journey of emotional, spiritual and physical diffusion through time and space. Onali's remarkable linear style and experimentation with wood, paper, fiber, metal, wire, fabrics, polystyrene and paint on canvas are a striking counterpoint to Uzoma's deft, almost irreverent slashes and splashes of color creating abstract scenes and portraits heavy with sub-text reflecting complex emotional mindscapes.
Promise Onali (born 1982) studied fine art at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where he graduated with a degree in painting in 2007. His use of diverse media to explore scientific questions such as the origin of evolution, is grounded in strong linearity and embryonic metaphors. Onali’s fascination with the expansion of individual and collective consciousness is evident in the subtle layers of his mixed media works.
Chibuike Uzoma (born 1992) a multidisciplinary artist adept at painting, photography, drawing, and text, graduated from the University of Benin in 2013 with a major in painting, and is heading to Yale University for a Masters of Fine Arts degree later this year. Uzoma references contemporary politics in Africa and the Diaspora and questions popular culture against the backdrop of global conflict. By asking “maybe we know nothing?” Uzoma creates visual poetry which reflects our universal struggle with identity in a fast changing universe. “I try to make images that express the basic and necessary elements of human experience: freedom, love, joy, possibility, hope, and even tragedy, ” he explained during a media briefing
“Diffusion comes against a backdrop of contemporary social consciousness and how it connects to history as certainty lived out” commented art critic, Prof. Frank Ugiomoh, Professor of art history and theory, formerly at the University of Port-Harcourt. “What is evident in the body of work here is the overwhelming import of the place of consciousness and the cerebral aspects of the human family symbolised in thought processes,” he explained.
“Uzoma and Onali’s friendship and professional appreciation of each others’ different approaches to art is quite rare and refreshing”, said exhibition curator Sandra Mbanefo Obiago. “Onali’s exact, clinically scientific approach to painting and his commitment to the environment and scientific discovery is a wonderful contrast to Uzoma’s fluid, impulsive and exuberant style which stems from an intellectual curiosity influenced by thought leaders like Franz Fanon and Chinua Achebe .”
Diffusion runs from March 30th to May 17th, 2019 and is curated by SMO Contemporary Art and supported by Veuve Clicquot.