Dike continues art of experimentations with Unknown Pleasures and Competing Tendencies

Posted: March 14, 2012 in arts/culture

When asked about the limit to her experimentations with various media, one of Nigeria’s top abstract and mixed media artist, Ndidi Dike, simply replied: “There is no limit to my experimentations. I keep experimenting with objects and materials for a satisfying artistic expression.”

Such is the theme surrounding the latest solo exhibition by Dike titled: Unknown Pleasures and Competing Tendencies: An Exhibition of Works (Paintings, Mixed Media & Installation), that the works numbering over 30 and which took her nearly three two years to put together inspire and command admiration not just for the industry but also for the imagination and creativity involved.

Billed to run from this Saturday, March 17 through to Monday 26, the exhibition features a diverse range of materials, the exhibition includes a new large-scale installation and several new cycles of paintings created over the course of the past three years, in the same way as they signal new approaches in the technical and conceptual development of Dike’s artistic practice.

Oscillating between cultural, personal and political spaces, her new body of work effects a complex tableau of meaning wherein both the past and present are made visible through a rigorous engagement with process and materiality.

Through assemblage strategies that distort, complicate or rupture prevailing associations with discarded and synthetic materials, such as industrial printing plates, marine wood, acrylic, and polyurethane, among others, Dike’s recent installations fabricate new narratives that foreground unexpected connections between disparate concepts such as textile traditions, abstraction, craft, industrial design and consumerism. Motivated by an experimental approach to art making, Unknown Pleasures & Competing Tendencies extends the artist’s recent praxis of repurposing objets trouvés in ways that reconfigure their signifying logic and challenge their aesthetic limitations.

The exhibition also includes a selection of heavily textured and deeply lyrical abstract acrylic on canvas paintings that take the story and elaborate process of their experimental making as the works’ dominant narrative.

In eschewing figuration and illustrative narratives, and  blurring the media boundaries between collage, painting, installation and sculpture, Dike’s new works disrupt the present terms upon which painting is conceived today, especially within the context of contemporary art practices in Nigeria.

Exposing the parallels between process and materiality, she explores the possibilities of locally-sourced materials, forcing into question their bearings on Nigerian visual culture and their embedding within the logic of global consumerism.

Curated by Antawan I. Byrd, Dike’s Unknown Pleasures and Competing Tendencies, according to Byrd is in many ways an exhibition that points to the relationship between two integral aspects of the creative process: experimentation and the discovery of materials.

“It is an exhibition that sidesteps the quick impulse to be about something, or to illustrate an idea or theory external to the work itself. And as such it sympathizes with Nauman’s desire to unclutter the theoretical space of the exhibition in an attempt to enable an unfiltered engagement with the work. To be sure, this stripping of the exhibition’s pretensions to meaning does not evacuate the discursive meanings of the individual works themselves,” said the curator.

According to Byrd, if  we consider the processes, of material discovery and technical experimentation, that informed the spirit of many of the works, then this strategy of presentation becomes all the more appropriate.

“From the outset Dike’s new work extends from her methodical exploration of varied materials such as acrylic, marine wood, aluminium plates, and mesh fabric, as well as different methods of working, painting, sculpture, and mixed-media installation. The expressive strategies taken in consolidating these methods within the individual works vary in extraordinary ways, from an installation of printing plates suspended by fishing line to the cycle of marine wood works that subtly oscillate between painting and sculpture,” the curator noted.

Born in London, Ndidi Dike studied painting at University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where she earned her degree in 1984. Since leaving Nsukka, Dike has established herself as one of Nigeria’s leading contemporary artists.

Her work has been featured in more than 60 solo and group exhibitions both in Nigeria and abroad. Recent solo exhibitions include Waka-Into-Bondage: The Last 3/4 Mile, Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos (2008) and Tapestry of Life: New Beginnings, National Museum Lagos, Onikan (2008). Her work is represented in numerous public and private collections, both in Nigeria and Abroad.



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