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Okorie’s unique art barks to be seen

Mr. Roderik Gross, Director of the Institut said, “Goethe-Institut Nigeria, the German Cultural Centre in Lagos, is proud to present new works of Nnenna Okore…

Mr. Roderik Gross, Director of the Institut said, “Goethe-Institut Nigeria, the German Cultural Centre in Lagos, is proud to present new works of Nnenna Okore from today until July 10, who is one of Nigeria’s most celebrated artists in the Diaspora.”
“Nnenna Okore”, he noted, “stands for the millions of Nigerians who live a life abroad, forced to find an identity between the ties to the country of their origin and new cultural influences in their host country.
The exhibition tag, ‘Of Earth…Barks and Topography, according to the artist, makes reference to the Earthly nature, specifically focusing on the textural qualities of tree barks and the relief of our landscape.
“The uniquely diverse and tactile qualities of the natural world hold such strong fascination for me. I am intrigued, by the forces of nature that interact with and shape the natural terrains which we share with other the living entities. I am captivated and transformed by the transient processes that occur over the passage of time, resulting phenomenal earthly textures and formations of visual complexities.”
Speaking about her works on display she said, “The sculptural pieces created for this show broadly reference structures associated with plant life and environmental relief. I am drawn to the repetitive, and yet timeless patterns of biomorphic forms. I am fascinated by their temporariness, their physical integrities, and their agelessness. I am interested in how natural processes such as decay, erosion and deformations, regenerate into more stunning forms.”  
In addition, she said, “My materials, which are largely biodegradable include, old newspapers, found paper, ropes, thread, yarn, fibers, burlap, dye, coffee, starch, and clay. Most of the works are constructed from handmade paper, layered with various fibrous materials and dyes. And much like impermanent attributes in nature, my paper making techniques result in fragile-looking forms that allude to the ephemerality of all life. The delicate clay pieces, though traditionally created and woven into burlap, also mimic the subtle and intricate traces of barks and topography.”
Describing the Okore’s style, Prof. El Anatsui, her former lecturer who declared the exhibition open, said, “Nnenna Okore has worked (and I believe still works) with empty cartons, plastic sheets, newspaper and all kinds of media.
After her first degree, when she spent a year with me in my studio, we discussed the viability and appropriateness of artists exploring media from around them because these imbue the works with significance , contextual relevance and meaning.
Okore was among a handful of students at the University of Nigeria whose works, on account of the freshness of vision, imaginative use of media and variety of expressive formats inspired me to curate the exhibition “New Energies” in 2001 (at two venues:- Mydrim and Nimbus Galleries in Lagos).
Speaking on some her past works Anatsui said, “I remember one of her a piece in this show, entitled: ‘The Wedding is Over” in which, employing rolled up newspapers woven into a large loose cloak, she did a performance in which this was worn and quickly discarded. I could decipher the very poignant commentary on a human institution which is increasingly short-lived, using a medium which is not only ephemeral itself but has news, (literature with the most fleeting life-span), printed on it.”
“Just barely out of her MFA program, she has already built a formidable track record and   her list of shows for this year alone number close to ten mostly in some critical venues around the world,” he concluded.
Regarding the effects of the exhibition on the viewers, she said, “The exhibition is not only intended to heighten the viewer’s awareness and perception of the alluring textures, undulating contours and organic movements that exist within our earthbound environment, but to call for more reflection on the preservation and care of our natural surroundings and the earth in general.”

For many of the viewers, like Lekan Oloruntoba and Adel Mikal, “the exhibition was both rewarding and gratifying for her to be back sharing these concepts with the Nigerian community.  The works in general are well received and appreciated.”a