The African Artists Foundation (AAF), based in Lagos, is hosting Johnson Ocheja’s first-ever solo exhibition, entitled “A Pilgrim’s Journey; Through the Shades of Yellow.” The exhibition features 12 large paintings by Johnson Ocheja and four collaborative works by the artist and other artists, creating opportunities for collaboration and community engagement.
The exhibition features portraits of Ocheja’s muses, the archetypal pilgrim. Johnson Ocheja depicts his subjects enjoying the fruits of their journey in gardens of pure delight, using the color yellow to symbolize happiness and bliss. The artist uses foliage as a recurring motif to symbolize vitality and connection to the sources of life, nature and abundance.
Johnson Ocheja‘s paintings also contain religious symbolism, emphasizing the importance of spirituality in a society that often neglects it in favor of materiality. The archetype of the pilgrim is used to refer to the pilgrims of old for whom the color yellow symbolizes knowledge, enlightenment and spiritual growth.
Through his paintings, Johnson Ocheja reminds us that happiness is not just an individual quest, but a shared experience that brings people together and uplifts those who struggle. The moments of domestic life captured in her works serve as a visual diary, reminding us that the journey is just as important as the destination.
The exhibition is in keeping with AAF’s mission to encourage and support emerging African artists through solo exhibitions, create opportunities for collaboration, and enhance interaction with the public through various forms of exhibiting the work.
Johnson Ocheja‘s use of shades of yellow, ranging from lighter, brighter hues to deeper, muddier tones, represents bliss, possibility and hope, resonating deeply with the artist’s personal journey. By using yellow as a refuge color, Johnson Ocheja elevates it beyond its aesthetic code, makes it a symbolic portal to the experience of individual and collective happiness.
“A Pilgrim’s Journey; Through the Shades of Yellow” is an immersive exhibition that explores the journey to happiness through the use of religious symbolism, natural motifs, and different shades of yellow. Johnson Ocheja‘s work reminds us to enjoy the journey, cherish social relationships and seek deeper purpose and meaning in life.