Man is a collection of several bits and pieces of his environment, the good, the bad, the ugly all sync together to form one man.
Over centuries, man has beaten and battered the environment to suit him, to become more habitable as time goes by.
Man has conquered his environment, in science, in music, in technology, in art especially in art; man has reshaped his environment to become his perfect masterpiece.
The question, as man makes giant efforts to twist everything around him is has he really explored himself, has he completely mastered himself?
They say once picture conveys a thousand words, same way each painting conveys a million words. Look closely and you will see twenty thousand dimensions in one piece.
Man and his conquerable environment is the subject of the on-going Morphogenesis exhibition at Didi Museum, Victoria Island.
Morphogenesis is the biological process that causes an organism to develop its shape, derived from Greek morphê shape and genesis creation meaning “beginning of the shape.”
Every piece in this collection explores the eternal structure of man’s being. Adam was the first man who lived on earth; he was the man who ate the Apple that led to the fall of man.
Till today, man still attributes his woes to the first man who ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
When you scrutinise each piece, you will see several similarities, the apple, half eaten or full, the books and the stylish characters.
“My work has a quasi-religious theme to it, the Adam and Eve theme is very strong but the Apple is metaphorical for knowledge,” these are the words of John Madu, the artist.
With the solemnity that has transcended into his characters, he stares at each piece with the humility of a master creator admiring his most astonishing creation.
Madu explained that his paintings are allegorical, they represent something higher. On his fascination with his environment, he described man as a complex organism that cannot conquer himself.
He said “Man is like the most complex organism in the universe now, man has conquered everything in his environment to fit him but he has not conquered man, your environment is basically your experiences.
“People don’t know that the next human being could be your breakthrough to success. I am interested in the human psyche that is why I use figuratives, humans are very ambitious.”
Madu also talked about the concept of forward feeding which is the opposite of feedback. Rather than recanting past events, forward feeding teaches people to focus on a positive future.
On why he chooses the black palette, he said “I choose the black palette for personal reasons but to depict the African man, black is just a metaphor.”
David Oamen, Madu’s artist manager describes the paintings are relatable. He said “The fact his works are relatable, almost anyone can relate with it, the paintings speak a message or an ideal,you can see yourself or someone you know.”
While commenting on the Debutante, a piece that strikes a chord somewhere inside you the first time you look at it, Oamen said “You can see the lights and Camera, deep down she is not fazed by all the glamour, she has her own issue, shortcomings and all that.”
Jordan Ray-Belonwu, an Art historian praises the stories splashed on each canvas. He said “John Madu explains life in itself from the evolution of man down to the fall and his slow rise again to perfection. He presents the activities of man in a subtle yet expressive manner. In his words “man has conquered everything apart from himself.
“I like his use of space, he transforms the canvas to a book, where he tells stories and shares ideas. He makes his works captivating by their size. Also his use of vectors and white space highlights his uniqueness. His surrealistic works have this style of 3 dimension illusion, the painting’s degradation are not in blurry or smooth, they are sharp and defined creating somewhat a comical look.
“His style is unique and fresh for some who did not study fine arts.”
Madu’s characters all have a great fashion style, from the dude wearing a three piece suit with the neatly folded tie to the lady with patterned gowns; Madu was able to perfectly depict each character with the grace of a fashion designer.
One piece, Not for Sale presents us with one woman standing wearing a hat that carries a Not for Sale tag, Madu said she is “fashionable, cocky, eccentric, she is not for sale, she is like the Alpha female, she is not succumbing to what society dictates, she is the society.”
The grace of the artist combined with the gracefulness of each work of art in the Morphogenesis exhibition can only be summed up in one word “Great.”