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George Edozie talks about his struggle as an artist

The essence of art, according to one Nigerian artist, George Edozie, is not just to create an artwork which one hangs on the wall as an object of decoration, rather art, he says, should be a tool of communication for addressing societal issues.
Art also to Edozie is a universal language which cut across different cultures and races. “I have experienced over the years that people acquire works of art without knowing the artist’s cultural background, not speaking the same language with the artist or understanding the symbols and designs in the artwork but goes ahead to acquire the work because it makes an impression on them,” he explains.
“A good work of art is created by the artist with his body and soul and the art work should carry a strong message, record history and mirror the society that the work is created in. There should be a link between the artist and his work and one should be able to relate the artist with his works,” says the full-time studio artist, who lives in Lagos, Nigeria.
Edozie is of the opinion that political, religious, economic and other factors affect many artists not just in Nigeria alone but also in Africa. “A closer look on life as an artist, life as a young painter, struggling for survival, having left the Art school to practice as an artist, married life as an artist, facing the society, the struggle to convince people around you on your choice of profession, sourcing for funds to create works of art, creating of art in a bizarre environment without basic amenities, turning into a marketer to sell the works, struggling to develop one’s spiritual life among colleagues and friends that are atheist and still try to make good artwork in a society where governance is like slavery; yet there is still love for the land,” says the painter/sculptor.
Edozie’s works are widely collected within and outside the country. He is one of the artists in Nigeria who started working with African fabric on canvas. He combines it with paint and sometimes with newspaper. His inspirational compositions and the way he uses fabric to present traditional spirit and interpret them in a contemporary fashion stands him out. Also, his massive fabric sculptures are usually well detailed. You could feel the colours and textures of his works.
He has mentored many artists who are doing well; Uzoma Samuel Anyanwu being one of them.
Edozie has successfully curated more than twenty exhibitions in the USA, France, United Kingdom, Ghana and Nigeria. A co-founder of Artzero; an art group, and is co-author of the 101 Contemporary Artist, A Celebration of Modern Nigerian Art, published in 2010. “Before now as an artist, I have tried to document the African artist because I found out that the Nigerian art is not being documented that is why we wrote the book.”
In 2013 he had his fourth solo exhibition, titled Afro Love at Alexis Gallery in Lagos, where he is currently an Art Consultant.Afro Love depicts the life of a creative person (artist), his struggles, his family and love life, social and economic factors, the society he lives in, how it affects his life as an artist, the challenges of an artist living in Africa.”
Between December 2014 and February 2015, he participated in Art Basel at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami, United States of America (USA), titled Shifting the Paradigm. This made Edozie the first African to have a full show at the Museum.
Born on May 11, 1972 in Enugu State, Nigeria, Edozie is from Onitsha in Anambra State. He studied Fine and Applied Arts at the University of Benin where he majored in painting and earned a Bachelor of Arts (Fine and Applied Arts) in 1996. He has participated in over sixty-nine group exhibitions within and outside Nigeria. He was part of the exhibitions Africa Now, organized by the World Bank for emerging African Artist at the World Bank main complex Washington DC USA in 2008 and African Way of Art, La Galerie Vendome Paris France in 2011.

By Udemma Chukwuma

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