"Inexorables" Art Exhibition Review

by Alewa House, published 6 months, 1 week ago

Jos, is Nigeria’s artistic and societal diamond in the rough. A unique microcosm of Nigeria, that transforms everyone into its own and churns out phenomenal artists across various media with every heartbeat, and inspires countless others that come in contact with the city. Yet, its own stories tend to go untold or lost in the milieu of stories of other places which the artists it produces go to tell.

2020, was a momentous year. The tides of history swept across the world and everyday came with its new changes and challenges. From ASUU strike, to the COVID-19 pandemic and its lockdown, rising youth unemployment and poverty, to the #EndSARS protests. This dissected Plateau state that had already faced so many challenges in the previous decades to confront and forge through these new, universal ones.

In the end of the year, I came across a flyer for something rather surprising for such an artistic city, an art exhibition. It by two young, indigenous artists: Mangai Joel Dawang and Hansel Jang Pam and I knew I had to attend. Exhibitions in the Jos were very few and very far between. This was, as a matter of fact, the first I had heard of in recent memory.

inexonorables exhibition flier

At the art exhibition themed ‘Inexorables’ which ran from 19th December 2020 - 3rd January 2021 , a series of paintings by one of the artists - Mangai Joel Dawang drew me in and held me transfixed on the spot. With bold and textured brush strokes, the artist depicted various portraits of the human face that seemed to emerge from the chaos of their respective backgrounds. With sharp piercing eyes, bold reds and muted reds, greys, blues and sometimes yellows; the paintings drew you into their story. In the paintings I saw the artist tell a tale of a city that had already survived much worse than what 2020 had to offer, and though the world burned around it, it took that fire and muted it. I saw the ability of the city to calibrate anyone and anything to fit its identity. I saw its youth and the questions they had to answer; to stay and fight for the city they loved, or to leave and make something of themselves? I saw a city fighting, one that had bled but was still alive, I saw that it would always inspire.

Mangai Dawang Red eyes 2020 acrylic on canvas Courtesy of the artist

Mangai Dawang, Red eyes, 2020, acrylic on canvas, 62x62 cm. Courtesy of the artist

Above all, in the paintings and in the exhibition; I saw that a new generation of artists are here, ready to be seen and to be heard. Ready to record, to confront, to reimagine and to challenge history about their home, from their home. In Jos, from Jos and to the world.

Mangai-Dawang-Blue-eyes-2020-acrylic-on-canvas-62x62-cm-Courtesy-of-the-artist.jpg

Mangai Dawang, Blue eyes, 2020, acrylic on canvas, 62x62 cm. Courtesy of the artist

Hansel Pam Maza 2020

Hansel Pam, Maza, 2020, oil on canvas, 100x120 cm Courtesy of the artist.

Hansel-Pam-Benz-2020 ink on paper

Hansel Pam, Hansel Pam, Benz, 2020, ink on paper, 90x90 cm. Courtesy of the artist

Hansel Jang Pam was born in Jos, Plateau State. He holds a degree in Fine Art from Ahmadu Bello University, Nigeria. He is currently a post-graduate student in the same institution.

Hansel has a preference for using watercolour and ink in painting. ” I have always wanted a style of painting that would create a transparency effect on a surface and though it will look like a wash, it will also look aesthetically pleasing. I also wanted to create paintings that the objects shown are so camouflaged that the viewer would hardly tell, thereby creating a more in-depth thinking and probably arguments that can be satisfactory to the viewer. My inspiration comes from the Chinese traditional ink painting which is monochromatic in nature.”

Mangai Joel Dawang was born in Jos, Plateau State. He has a degree in Fine Art from Ahmadu Bello University, Nigeria. He is currently a post-graduate student, pursuing a master’s degree in painting from the same institution. Mangai is an artist who expresses his creative ideas in multiple media like drawing, painting, graphic design and photography. “I am mostly fascinated with portraits and figures as subjects in creating my works because faces and figures are embodiments of human experience, story and mood, and convey emotions that words alone cannot express.”

Paintings from Mangai Joel Pam’s 2020 Series will be showing alongside works from other artists from Jos at the Beautiful Chaos Exhibition (curated by Ponchang Kumven) from the 22nd to 24th of January 2021.

Beautiful Chaos exhibition flier.jpg

‘Beautiful Chaos’ exhibition flier

Review by Aisha Bima

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