by Alewa House, published 3 weeks, 5 days ago
Unarguably, the year 2020 would travel down history’s lane and clinch for itself a space on the hall of fame as one riddled with the most life-changing of events that held the world by its jugular, threatening to split it asunder. Despite the prickly blows that came with the year, it is interesting to see that amidst the groping in the dark, amidst the sprinklings of uncertainties and despair; the ruggedness of hope emanates regardless. Therefore, to commence the new year (2021), the recently concluded Arts Exhibition “Beautiful Chaos” in Jos, Nigeria, proved that in all that the previous year threw in our faces, onus lies on all and sundry to preserve every intricate piece of information; to nurture the feelings of fear, anxiety, and every other human emotions we felt- and most importantly to participate in telling the true stories, and bequeathing down to posterity.
Kenri Tony-Doohwan, 2020, 2020, Ink on paper. Photo Courtesy of JAGO.
Alewa House, in collaboration with JAGO – Jos Art Gallery Online brought this historic art exhibition curated by Ponchang Kumven to fruition. The art exhibition which opened on the 22nd – 24th of January was themed: “Beautiful Chaos: Disruption, Transformation and Creativity”, and featured artworks inspired by the chaos which riddled the year 2020: COVID-19 pandemic; the 9 month long ASUU strike which kept a large portion of the country’s university students out of school; and the #EndSAR Protests.
"Beautiful Chaos" Art Exhibition Flier. Photo Courtesy Of JAGO.
It is both interesting as well as mind boggling to consider the paradoxical flare with which the exhibition was named: “Beautiful Chaos”. To scratch beyond the surface to the core would reveal that in spite of how chaotic the previous year unfolded, [COVID inclusive], in spite of the misdemeanors that has its claws deep into the Nigerian socio-political space, we see pockets of beauty that reminds us to hang positivity like an ornament around our necks, and that when we reach our lowest, we reinforce and fan the embers of hope.
Plangji Challa, Beautiful Chaos, 2020, Acrylic on Canvas. Photo Courtesy of JAGO.
The exhibition featured 8 artists: Judith Daduut (Young Contemporaries’ 2020 finalist), Plangji Challa, Mangai Dawang, Victor Elayo, Tony Kenri, Rike Christian, Nenman Goki, Nentawe Gokwat, Mala Iwa Gbado Ikaleku. And photographs from 16 Photographers: Lazham Gaina, Zayn Yusuf Ali, Beka Nenzar, Epaphras Obed, Benedict Pawa, Lawunna Yilwada, Martha Datong, Andy Chantu, Victor Atang, Gyang Daweng, Raphael Ogbodo, Amanda Jeremih, Victor Idi Peters, Twamsen Danaan, Emmanuel Morgan Ishaya and Kenneth Obinna. It also included pieces from inspiring amateur artists: Makut Macham, an architect who used the Covid-19 lockdown to reignite his passion for painting, and Holiare Manga, a 500 level medical student from the University of Jos who spent a portion of the ASUU strike to learning how to crochet, and is presently good enough to make crochet pieces for prospective clients.
"Beautiful Chaos" Exhibition Space. Photo Courtesy of JAGO.
The exhibition which ran for three days sought to, and did successfully ignite a sense of nostalgia in the minds of people who were part of the #EndSARS protest, and conjure a empathy from people who didn’t experience the #EndSARS protest firsthand. Like most artistic engagements, the exhibition promoted creativity, participation in decision making especially in the continuous effort to build and defend democracy by the citizenry, and most importantly opened minds of exhibition visitors to the positive side of chaos, as an integral part of change opening us to creativity and progressive change.
Ponchang Kumven, Curator Of "Beautiful Chaos" Art Exhibition. Photo Courtesy Of JAGO.
Photo Courtesy Of Sketch.
"Ladders Of History". Photo Courtesy Of Sketch.
Photo Courtesy Of JAGO
by Alewa House, published 1 month, 2 weeks 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.
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, 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
Hansel Pam, Maza, 2020, oil on canvas, 100x120 cm Courtesy of the artist.
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
Review by Aisha Bima