From June 3 to August 30, 2017, SMO Contemporary will present Modern Interpretations, an exhibition of 34 paintings by Nigerian artist Titi Omoighe.
To be held at Temple Muse in Lagos, Omoighe’s works can be split broadly in three main themes. Recent Works that show her ability to take risks, as well as exploration of new techniques and subjects. There is also the ‘Hunter’ series, inspired by D.O. Fagunwa’s book Ogboju Ode ninu Igbo Irunmale and translated into English by Wole Soyinka as Forest of a Thousand Daemons. The final theme, Tradition and Culture focuses on the way of life of the African people while also investigating the indigenous focusing on different groups, values and cultures.
Titi Omoighe’s interest has always been in translating Nigeria’s rich literature into visual poetry, with traditional African forms that have contemporary nuance and reflection. Her impressionistic work shows a deep maturity and balance, inviting us into a world where elongated human forms travel across vast landscapes and rich forests, enacting famous Yoruba mythological stories of hunters in search of adventure. Omoighe’s canvases reflect both the physical action of characters in search of higher meaning while engulfed in other-worldly adventure, as well as deftly draw us into the emotional and spiritual landscapes of memory, longing and revelation.
The curator, Sandra Mbanefo Obiago says, “What is interesting about Omoighe’s work is the counterpoint, the abstract next to the realistic, pointing to a deeper, mystical nature of life that is given equal space and expression on her canvases. Her colours dance and tease around her human forms, providing room for our imagination to fill in the gaps, allowing us to enjoy her subtle use of colour and movement.”
Omoighe’s ‘Hunters’ series reveals an artist who is not afraid to leave something to the imagination. Her forms and skilled use of colour, sometimes rendered in pure impressionistic brushstrokes, and lately, presented through more textured and abstract drippings and splashes, show the artist, grounded in an understanding of the dynamics of painting, balance, and perspective. We follow her lines and recognise a gesture or scene, the mysterious pose of a transcendental masquerade, the royal gaze of a king on his subjects, the repose of a hunter after the kill, the tender embrace of mother and child, or the whisper of colourful head-ties making contact in party whirl.
Beyond literature, Omoighe focuses on the essence of African life and expression. She skillfully captures the interplay of intricate traditional dances, the sacred symbolism and stoic form of royal Bini tradition, flashy aso ebi adorning celebrations exploring female identity and cultural stricture, young men assembling around the communal water tap with hunters’ gaze, as well as deftly paints the gathering of elders under ancestral trees to bring us close to the heart of the African way of life.
Titi Omoighe was born in 1966 and holds a higher national diploma in painting from the Yaba College of Technology and a Masters of fine art in painting from the University of Benin. Her artistic practice has focused on interpreting literature through painting. She has taken part in major exhibitions in Lagos, Nigeria, including the Nigerian Association of Female Artists Group Exhibition in Lagos (2007); School of Art and Design Staff Exhibition, Yaba College of Technology (2010); Branding Contextual Values in Forms, Yusuf Grillo Art Gallery, School of Art, Design and Printing Technology, Yaba College of Technology (2016); and the Bruce Onobrakpeya and the Harmattan Workshop Exhibition at the Lagos Court of Arbitration (2017). Alongside an active career as a painter, Titi Omoighe lectures in art at the Yaba College of Technology.