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Ancient Qin Dynasty Terracotta Warriors come to Lagos

By Udemma Chukwuma
On view at the GAC Motor showroom in Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria, are a collection of life size Terracotta sculptures, depicting the warriors of the first Emperor of China. The figures which date back to approximately the late third century BCE, were discovered in 1974 by local farmers in Lintong District, Xi'an, Shaanxi province in China.

The show opened over the weekend. The exquisite sculptures were brought in by a young Nigeria artist, Uzoma Samuel Anyanwu, and are part of the works on display on his ongoing exhibition of selected Chines heritage site photographs, titled: Coming to China; A Photographers Dairy at the Site of Qin Dynasty.  

According to Anyanwu, the sculptures were secured from China and donated for the exhibition. The priceless objects, he says, will be returned to China after the exhibition. The show is open for public viewing for a week.
Anyanwu says he has always sought to queue his art practice into the mainstream of global art community, with a keen interest “in an attempt to seek for what other nations and their citizens look like beyond the perspective of media propaganda.”

The exhibition reveals the originality of Anyanwu’s brand of photography. “I’m promoting a world culture and not just the Chinese culture. As an artist, when you see an artwork, it belongs to the world, it belongs to humans. I visited China on just the interest on exploring or furthering my interest on cultural activities.”

A mixed media work stands out at the exhibition, a colourful fabric collage portrait of Mao Zedong. “This man is an icon in China and you cannot bypass him when you are in China.”

No doubt China remains a place where most people travel to for commercial activities, but Anyanwu went there to explore the rich cultural heritage of Chine. He captures the beautiful world of China, their priceless ancestry treasures, amazing historical sites, sunrise and sunset in China, splendour temples and towers, such as the Temple of Heaven, the Great Walls of China.

“Today part of my dream has come to pass as the Chines Terracotta Warriors finally visit the home of the Nigeria Nok Terracotta sculpture, therefore blurring the different ancient art traditions and offering a chance for cultural exchange, appreciation and learning.”

Aside from capturing the magnificent structures and landscapes in China, Anyanwu also captured breath taking theatre world of China.
 Anyanwu says he is using the show to draw the attention of Nigerians, urging them not to neglect their heritage sites.
“When you visit any part of china, they have something to offer. Nigeria and China should have cultural exchange, we should look at where we can meet the Chinese and learn from each other, but possibly learn cultural management and heritage management from the Chinese.”

The artist who spoke passionately about China says the county “is worthy of emulation. Recently, our president and some senators visited for economic reasons. They saw a lot and came back and were making reviews. And Nigerians are hopeful that something from that part of the world will help lift us from where we are into a better situation.”

Is Anyanwu going to export the Nigerian culture to China? “Yes, this is a project I have started and it’s not going to end here. Even those that have supported this project, both the Chinese and Nigerians, their eyes have now been opened that we have a lot to share.”

One striking similarity between Nigeria and China, he says, is the Nok Terracotta sculptures and the Terracotta warriors of China.  When I saw those things, I began to ask myself maybe China and Nigeria have something common. The Terracotta sculptures coming to Nigeria is actually luring ancient’s traditional boundaries that have existed between Nigerian.”

What were the challenges he had taking these photographs in one year?
"As a Nigerian, I didn’t really have much challenges, taking the pictures. The only challenge I had was the distance I covered taking these photographs.  It was so worrisome though I have not travelled all that far; even though I have travelled to other countries from Nigeria.
Anyanwu at the opening reception.
"I spent twenty-eight hours on the road when I went to see these Terracotta sculptures, I haven’t done that before in my life. Six hours’ journey within a country by flight, I haven’t done that before, language barrier and food," he recalls.

He had participated in shows such as the Niger Delta photo. A fulltime studio artist, he describes himself as promotive artist.

The exhibition is being supported by GAC Motor, OYASAF Foundation, University of Port Harcourt, and is curated by Etiido Effiong Inyang with Frank Ugiomoh as its Artistic Director, and Nelson Graves as the Associate Artistic Director.

1 comment:

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