Paintings by Odiabhebor Odibo


Though all things foul would wear the brows of grace. Yet grace must still look so.”

– William Shakespeare, Macbeth.

Artworks, mostly paintings, strained to assert their presence in a glitzy ambience. Even in this annual art fair, tagged ArtX Lagos – which was in its fourth edition in November 2019 – the zeitgeist of the art world wafted through the stands. Yet, from behind it all, a sad reality peered at the dispassionate viewer. And that was the fact that so much in the contemporary art world inevitably spiralled towards a blur of sameness.

Could this, perhaps, explain that déjà-vu feeling that haunts contemporary art events worldwide? Indeed, the whole veneer of experimentation conceals a stagnation in the realisation of higher art forms. Artists, despite their cultural peculiarities, seem mired by the dictates of the globalist trends. This suggests that they draw – consciously or unconsciously – from the same power-centres of homogeneous thought-forms.

But then, how serious do artists take themselves or their works? What kind of audiences are their works intended for? Are the artists angling for financial rewards or fame? Since, according to a creation’s law, like always attracts like, should it surprise any sensitive aficionado that so much gravitates towards denser realms of existence?

Surely, the current afflictions under which humanity groans do have their causes! For while many artists readily affirm that their works faithfully mirror the realities of their environments, they overlook the fact that these works also contribute their quota towards shaping their outward environment. Of course, no laws may be promulgated to trammel their freedom to choose their preferred forms of expressions. Nonetheless, wrong choices do have their unsavoury consequences. For appropriate anguishes await thoughtless triflings with the sublime gift of creativity.

Since the uncertain aesthetic experimentations of a clueless Western artist end up being accepted as straightforward, creative canons by his African counterpart, it is not surprising that grotesque depictions of distorted forms end up being hailed as art.

But can the artist disregard with impunity the inherent lawfulness governing his natural environment? Indeed, how could beauty and peace arise from the midst of the many hideous forms of expressions that are darkening the earth’s finer material environment in the name of art?

In reality, with his accumulated armoury of inspirations, the artist has a responsibility to direct his audience’s gaze to a sublime goal. And to be able to do this, his recognition and fulfilment of a Supreme Will, to which everything owes its existence, must be taken for granted. It is his adherence to this will that not only develops him inwardly but also grants him access to higher inspirations, which ultimately he should be able to transmute into recognisable forms.