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Millennial artists interrogate cultural hybridity

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By Ozolua Uhakheme Assistant Editor (Arts)

A virtual exhibition of 16 paintings, graphic illustrations, hyper realistic drawings and collage by three young artists, Ifeatuanya Ify Chiejina, Nwakuso Edozien, and Johnson Eziefula, opened last week to redefine, interrogate and celebrate their identity. It will run till September 30.

The exhibition tagged Neo Custodians is organised by SMO Contemporary Art. The young artists sift through layers of social, genetic, and cultural inheritances and influences in an attempt to define, examine, and celebrate their identity.

Chiejina’s works speak about the duality experienced when attempting to internalise societal precepts, Nwakuso uses mixed media as a metaphor to address the various layers and complexities of genealogical and geographical impact on the self, and Johnson takes on a psychological approach with the use of light and colour to emphasise the permeation of cross-cultural influences.

“These neo custodians do not claim to have arrived at an answer, but with each brush stroke exposes questions buried beneath the surface. They decipher the burden of the Millennial who navigates the notion of self by interrogating all inheritance and all influences,” said Nneoma Ilogu, curator of the exhibition.

The exhibition is an exciting mixture of media at the hand of artists who are at the beginning of their artistic journey, exploring and finding their authentic voice in an art market saturated by many trend-followers. At a critical time of black political consciousness, especially amongst people of colour, and with the spotlight being thrown on how art reflects the Black Lives Matter movement, these young artists bring a fresh, multi-textured sensitivity and depth to the global conversation around identity and culture.

“Chiejina, Edozien, and Johnson reveal a continuous sensibility that asks the spectator to recompose the continuity of a narrative of heritage and identity. A vivid incompleteness is the potential of a new era of custodians and substitutes a static fulfillment of a transforming role. Being a Neo Custodian evolves into something thrilling as we are invited to enter laboratories of discourses,” according to Dr. Charlotte Langhorst, an art historian.

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