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“Here comes Obituary"

On Wednesday morning, Bob-Nosa Uwagboe shocked everybody, including me, when he shared the poster of his slated solo exhibition entitled Obituary. One cannot but question: why does the artist from Edo State prefer such a controversial theme?
No Dulling
According the artist, immediately they saw Obituary, some people began to pray for him that his family would not mourn this season!  To the artist, however, Obituary is only figurative.  Yet, not a few would snap: some morbid taste of the figurative!  But the artist remained unfazed. 
Obituary," explains the Auchi Polytechnic, Edo State, graduate of visual arts, "has been perceived as a forbidden theme by the faint-in-the-heart.  But then for an artist, who is totally free and have arrested his fears, Obituary is the most appropriate theme for this show," he insists.
His main reason for choosing the theme, he says “is also in a way to mourn those who have lost their lives due to the consequence of poor leadership in Africa.”
Uwagboe's art has been scrutinised by many and the response has not always been pretty. "Take this rubbish out of my sight!" was one of such flashing rebukes, from a livid respondent.
Uwagboe agrees that was harsh -- indeed, the cruellest putdown his art had had to endure.  He also confesses it could have stifled the artistic muse of one less adept at handling criticisms, no matter how savage or violent, for it was in the early years.
But the artist says such critiques helped him to hanker down at his art, knowing that most people used their conventional attitudes to judge his rather unorthodox art.  Today, however, thanks to Uwagboe's persistence, more and more people are accepting his art, even if even many still feel some discomfort in his unorthodox artistic themes and subjects.
Inhumanity to man in Africa by African
This explanation forced a further question-and-answer, to explore what fires Uwagboe's artistic essence:
What inspires you?
The high level of inhumanity is my major influence.
I see a lot of naked subjects for this upcoming exhibition, what is the message?
It is one of the provocative elements that keep recurring in my work as a way of pushing my out bitterness about what is happening in our society today, especially minors being raped on a daily basis. This is heart-breaking because I’m a father.”
What is your reply to those who do not understand the theme of your coming show and are in a hurry to condemn it? 
I understand Obituary is such a heavy word am working with.... But I only try my best to project my artistic intentions. But after, if you still don’t agree with me, it is none of my business. 
For this exhibition with a strong theme, the artist will showcase about 30 works. Why did it take him seven years to have another solo after Homme Libre in 2011 at the African Artists Foundation?
“Seven years," Uwagboe maintains, "is not a long time for an artist to have another solo show except if it is a commercially driven show.”
The exhibition opens on Saturday, November 24 to Sunday, December 2. 2018 at Signature Beyond Art Gallery, Lagos.
The victim of human merchants
Some of the title of the works as revealed by the artist are: Human Merchandise in Libya, Walking Away, Waka, Obituary, Yeye Man, Dying in Power, Stranded Immigrants. 

About the artist
Bob-Nosa Uwagboe was born in 1974 in the ancient city of Benin, Edo State, Nigeria. He received his professional education at Auchi Polytechnic, Auchi, Edo State, where he graduated with a Higher National Diploma (H.N.D) in 2004, specializing in painting.
Uwagboe is a full-time studio artist. After a brief stay in Abuja, he relocated to Lagos to set up a studio he calls The Protest Art Studio, to explore his creative energy into an experimental path that has resulted into thought-provoking themes; and often times, sparks of anger, pain, passion and vision, not often defined by the subject matters; and that defy the border usually set by artistic canons. He evokes emotion with his art in which he employs diverse materials seemingly unconnected at first.  But he often succeeds in challenging the audience to deeper engagement, with his works, from which there are varied interpretation and reflection, mostly concerned with issues of falsehood, deception, bad leadership and reaching to the unreached.
By Udemma Chukwuma

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