Within a freshly renovated gallery space at the National Museum Lagos, Kainebi Osahenye is returning to the Lagos exhibition circuit with a series of fresh new creations delivered to an anticipatory, if not eager, audience under the title “Shifting Currents”.
The artist has yet again departed from his traditional mode of representation; painting and drawing and is offering in this exhibition an immersive installation titled: “Redemption”. As a complement to Redemption, he is displaying a series of large, bordering on monumental, photographic collage under the title: “The Eye Series”. Both “Redemption” in its outward form as an immersive experience and “The Eye Series” in its mode of embracing repetition suggest that a significant shift has occurred in the artist’s method.
The exhibition also marks a transformation of some of Osahenye’s thematic concerns; having painted eyes and used burnt cans as assemblage materials since his Trashing exhibition of 2009, this installation signifies the first time he is combining photography with his assemblages and also breaking beyond the rigidity of the frame. Redemption comprises of several hundreds of flattened, touched, cans assembled on the walls and floor of the gallery space, the floor provides an interactive frame as the audience is encourage to trample on, and explore the work close-up and meet it, eye-to-eye. Thematically Redemption deals with a spiritual yearning that Osahenye observes within his environment. From it one can draw on the one hand an allegorical similarity to Dante’s “Divine Comedy” in representing the journey of the soul towards God, and then, on the other and with a more Nigerian reading, to D.O. Fagunwa seminal work; “The Brave Hunter in the Forest of Four Hundred Spirits”. Perhaps, then this offers an explanation for its laboured-ness and the fluidity in its framing.
At the same time Osahenye, has moved to photographic collage as a mode of representation for “The Eye Series”. This series consists of ten 8 feet by 6 feet panels of which only eight are displayed in the show. In exploring this repetitive layering of eyes of varying sizes and colours, the artist asks us to reflect on thematic considerations of intimacy and distance; crowdedness and privacy and cleverly reveals a certain aspect of his audiences’ vulnerabilities as they walk into a room totally owned by the eyes series. The audience is ushered into an unfamiliar perception space where they are required to grapple with a subject/object duality with which they are unaccustomed in a gallery space as the viewer is served up as the viewed.
Opening: Saturday 15th November 2014, 4 – 8pm
Kainebi Osahenye gained his MFA in art from the Goldsmiths College, London, UK, in 2012. He is from Agbor, Delta State, Nigeria. He lives and works in Lagos, Nigeria.