Joshua Uvieghara: Sapele Neon Boy

KOOP Projects, Brighton, United Kingdom
23 Sep 2023 - 14 Oct 2023

Joshua Uvieghara, Fragments on a Riverine Ocean, 2019, Pigment and Oil on canvas, 91 x 122cm. Courtesy the artist. © Joshua Uvieghara, 2023.

Joshua Uvieghara, Fragments on a Riverine Ocean, 2019, Pigment and Oil on canvas, 91 x 122cm. Courtesy the artist. © Joshua Uvieghara, 2023.

Curated by Art Historian and Curator Naomi Edobor at KOOP Projects, Brighton Sapele Neon Boy, a solo exhibition featuring the works of Joshua Uvieghara, explores his artistic journey while paying homage to his dual heritage. The exhibition opens on September 23, 2023, and will run until October 14, 2023.

Joshua Uvieghara approaches painting with a visionary perspective that revolves around the interplay of colour and the materiality of paint. His creative process involves extracting structures from personal anecdotes and childhood recollections, allowing subjects to emerge organically. Uvieghara’s fascination lies in the visual potential of painting, constructing works that invoke perceptions of time and duration akin to cinematic concepts.

Delving into themes of memory, boundaries, and truth, Uvieghara draws substantial influence from his background as a British artist of mixed Nigerian and Dutch heritage and his formative years in Greater London. His artistic portfolio encompasses various mediums, including paper, canvas, wood, and prints. Each piece is intricately layered, collectively unveiling his inspirations drawn from the vibrant city of Sapele, Nigeria, and the neon aesthetics embedded in his European heritage and lived experiences.

In Uvieghara’s words, “My journey with neon began as an exchange student in upstate New York in the late 90s. I had the opportunity to take classes in neon sculpture. As a painter, neon has a dynamic substance, and I wanted to translate it into pigment. I wanted to turn these tubes inside out to expose the phosphorous chemicals inside and to capture the velvet and shimmering coruscations of the night sky that serve as a backdrop to interests in filmic ideas. This turning inside out, to conceal some things to reveal others in a kaleidoscope oflight shadow and body, has been a growing preoccupation”.

Sapele Neon Boy transcends the boundaries of its artist and curator, emerging as an entity more significant than the sum of its parts. Within its thematic exploration of dual heritage and the traversal of diverse spaces, the exhibition serves not only as a point of departure but also as a pointer for reflecting upon the intricacies of transitions, the emotional resonances they invoke, and the intersection between how heritage converges with one’s sense of identity. This broader narrative encompasses the complexities of journeys, both physical and bodiless.

The exhibition is curated by Naomi Edobor, curator, art historian, researcher and art consultant, concentrating on developing Institutions and artists of African descent within Africa and the diaspora. Naomi co-founded DICA Arts in 2022, an agency committed to amplifying the works and practices of contemporary artists and creators of African descent. Naomi is also the Founder of OWA, an archive for aesthetics and cultural affairs of the Benin-Edo people, a platform seeking to decolonise, document, represent, disseminate and preserve indigenous stories. With a keen interest in cultural work, artistic expression and African affairs, she explores how visual culture presents, moulds, and promotes contemporary discourses surrounding cultural issues.




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