With its sinewy, bleeding, and sensitive lines, Our Journey highlights Obiora Udechukwu’s formal indebtedness to his Igbo culture. His original visual language is influenced by the indigenous aesthetic traditions of uli and nsibidi, here referenced in the overscaled patterns and individual abstract forms that travel the surface. The bold yellow line that gathers into a spiral specifically refers to the sacred python that paves the way and marks transit points, mythologized by the Igbo as the messenger of God.
Our Journey is also a metaphor for Nigeria’s postcolonial history, marked by civil war, economic hardship, and the gradual decline of the postcolonial state. Consider the diaristic sketches of shadowy human forms moving in groups and bearing loads on their heads, inscribed in the yellow band. These figures recall the civil war that raged in eastern Nigeria between 1967 and 1970. During that war, Udechukwu actively participated as a member of the Information Unit of the defunct Republic of Biafra. In addition, these images could well represent people fleeing Nigeria’s major cities in anticipation of the crisis that followed the annulment of the presidential election in 1993, the year Udechukwu completed this work.
From the 2019 exhibition Entrance Gallery, curated by John R. Stomberg Ph.D, Virginia Rice Kelsey 1961s Director
Atemholen, Universistät Erlangen-Nürnberg, Nürnberg, Germany, January 14 – February 4, 1994
Obiora Udechukwu – Unsere grosse Reise, Staatliches Museum für Völkerkunde, Munich, Germany, December 10, 1999 – February 22, 2003
OJEMBA: A Fifty-Year Retrospective – Selected Paintings, Drawings, and Prints by Obiora Udechukwu, 1966–2016, Richard F. Brush Gallery, St., Lawrence University, Canton, NY, August 17 – October 12, 2016
Poetics of Lines: Seven Artists of the Nsukka Group, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, October 27, 1994 – April 26, 1998
Entrance Gallery, Luise and Morton Kaish Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, January 26-August 11, 2019.
John R. Stomberg, The Hood Now: Art and Inquiry at Dartmouth, Hanover, New Hampshire: Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, 2019, p. 189, ill. plate no. 120.
Aas, Norbert. Den Lauf der Dinge beeinflussen. Bayreuth: Bumerang Verlag, 1999.
Ottenberg, Simon, Ed. The Nsukka Artsts and Nigerian Contemporary Art. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2002.
Desai, Vandana, and Robert Potter, Eds. The Companion to Development Studies, 3rd Edition. New York: Routledge, 2014.
Obiora Udechukwa, Canton, New York; sold to present collection, 2017.
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