By Udemma Chukwuma
Many artists have found that working within a small and clearly defined area, with limited means, holds too many restrictions.
Strangely, these constraints have been liberating for Obinna Makata, who is working directly and spontaneously, often without preparatory drawing. This had led him to discover many intriguing areas of subject matter, which he has assimilated and exploited thoroughly for his own purposes.
|Title: One after the other they came to rip us|
“I’m an artist, I don’t like limiting myself to sculpting, painting, textile or ceramic”, explains the artist.
Makata’s works straddle the line between abstract and narrative. The experimentalist, though a sculptor, is fascinated by knew techniques.
“All my life I have been a sculptor, you can see the sculptural influence in my work, but there are also elements of textile, and graphics in them. Sometimes I don’t carve on wood, I paint on wood. My art is a mixture of the whole branches of art, so I see myself as an artist.
“You will keep seeing something entirely new from me because I don’t know what am going to work with tomorrow,” he states.
Makata is currently exploring takeaway packs on canvas; a technique he created out of inquisitiveness to portray his cultural identity.
“I started exploring this medium in January this year,” says the alumnus of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN).
|Tittle: They did not make us a country before naming us a country|
“I’m exploring the idea of contents and containers, superiority and inferiority, strength and weakness, that is the plurality of our socio-cultural life”.
What inspired it? “I went to eat in one of the fancy restaurants, so I spent an exorbitant amount on a plate of food which was not worth the amount I spent.
“I said to myself ‘could it be that they are selling the container’; fancy restaurant, beautiful plate, the walls well painted, well air-conditioned and the food was nothing to write home about. That was when I began to think about contents and containers. We are being moved by what we see in Nigeria and not what it is. We are moved more by the outward appearance than the inward”.
Using women as example, he says, “I don’t know if the influence is from music videos or the social media. They like to put out very beautiful image about themselves, but when you have close contact with them you will see that they don’t really have anything to give out, that is the idea I’m exploring with takeaway packs”.
|Title: Beauty Deeper than Cosmetic|
When asked what he calls the style, Makata says: “When you pick a medium to explore, you just concentrate on how to make it art, how to bring out art from it. It will be a restriction if you will say I will call it this, the artwork will end up naming itself”.
Talking about what it was like growing up as a child, Makata says: “I didn’t grow up like other children, no play in the street, no party - art stole away my childhood.
“I did not enjoy it initially, but along the line, when I started making some little money I started enjoying it. It was a way of my parents getting me off the streets, along the line, I started developing love for art.
The Lagos-based artist had explored fabrics and ink extensively for almost eight years, he is probably more popular with his series of collage works on paper and canvas.
|Title: Embrace your Journey |
(ink and fabric on paper)
He says: “This series of works deal with the impact of excessive acquisition of material things in the contemporary African society, where the sustenance of everything Africa is facing a big challenge, such as language, social life, fashion, religion, etc”.
However, Makata says he is tired of working with ink and fabrics, but it is not the end of him working with the media which he says he discovered out of frustration.
“I started working with ink and fabric in 2009 after my youth service, that was when I realised that I never had an option B of what I was going to do with my life after graduation. Through out my school days my mind-set was to practice art after school, I never thought of if it didn’t work what will I do”.
“The reality dawned on me after school. No job and nobody knew me as an artist, people were not buying my work and galleries were not promoting my works. The challenges of paying house rent, renting a studio, getting materials for work, and feeding, all these led to frustration.
“The only thing I had to work with then was ink and paper, they were available, you will always have ink and paper around, so, I was playing with the ink and paper, just to keep myself busy. I wouldn’t say I was working; I was just trying to keep myself busy”.