I am super excited about this particular post not only because it is my first art review but because of whose work I’m reviewing. Our guest artist is none other but Chidinma Nnoli (Drum rolls please!), a graduate of Fine and Applied Arts from the prestigious University of Benin. I met her online, on a group chat for creatives and boy! The imprint she made on my tabular Raza like heart was bold. She’s also a writer who paints her poems to life and in turn, uses it as a medium for activism and to challenge the cultural conditioning of women; focusing on female sexuality, identity, abuse, and the psychological effects. Chidinma has a deep connection with these works I’m reviewing as the things she paints about were born out of her personal experiences. So, at this point, I’d tell you to brace up and look closely and critically at every one of them because each bears a piece of her in it. She has her works exhibited in a number of art galleries in Nigeria like the Thoughts Pyramid Art Center in Lagos State, the Fontini Cristi Art Gallery in Edo State, Rele Boot Camp, Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State and a bunch of others. The works reviewed here are not from one collection but from different collections made by the same artist.
WORK AND COMMENTARIES
So, this particular work was made after a period when Chidinma felt like quitting art and finding a new career path along the lines of writing and the pitch of music but with the help and support of friends around her, she was able to find her voice again and I am so glad she did! When I saw it, what came to mind was a village that had just been attacked and had its men killed while the women are raped and children taken as slaves.
These two paintings were created at Rele Boot Camp earlier this year in the duration of four days! Did you just say “wow!?” I said so too. When I saw the first one, I must admit that I didn’t see lies written on the lady’s forehead but I did notice her countenance looking like she was hiding something, more like a secret wrong she had done. The first thing that came to mind when I saw the second painting was the exact stereotype Chidinma is trying to curb by this work. I went “a woman smoking?” in the most judging Nigerian tone ever!
These two were created by fusing the expressive flowery background into the same canvas as the figures. They are part of the “Purple” collection which was made in 2019 when she wanted to mirror a not too pleasant part of her life which is in connection to her experiences of gender inequality.
Speaking personally with Chidinma, she said since her childhood, flowers have always been her strong tower and admiring them takes her to a safe place. So when she started drawing flower motifs when she was younger, it served as a form of therapy to remind her of what safety feels like. When I saw the painting of the first and second one, I thought “oh nature!” wide a big grin on my face and my eyes lit up with enthusiasm because, as a creative myself I understand the healing balm of nature which heals even stage 5 creatives block (Creatives block is a thing that happens when a creative can’t get the frequency to create. It is highly dangerous to the creative and has seen the death of many careers if not treated with overdose of nature and some other orishi-rishi secret ingredients). Looking at the third and fourth images, I came to mind was a hidden story that no one knows about which hunts fiercely and mirrors its horrors in the eyes of its prey.
You know I said something about meeting Chidinma on a group chat for creatives, well I gave a line to write with on the group which was “in a world of omino flux, you are my constant” and she wrote on it. I was completely blown away by it. Here is it below; you might want to hold on tight because you would be blown away too.
You you can follow Chidinma on instagram @chidinma.nnoli
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