Open through October 15, 2022, the Iwalewahaus at Bayreuth University features drawings and artwork by Nigerian artist Uche Okeke. The exhibition, titled “We will now go to Kpaaza“, offers an excursion through Uche Okeke‘s work highlighting the significance of his work to contemporary and current African art and plans to energize the conversation about art as a component of social recharging.
Universally, we will currently be visiting Kpaaza, an exhibition devoted exclusively to the creative work of this agent of Nigerian modernism. It has been generously supported by the Cluster of Excellence Africa Multiple at Bayreuth University and presented in close collaboration with the Asele Institute and Professor Uche Okeke Legacy Limited.
The exhibition “We will now go to Kpaaza” highlights the importance of Uche Okeke as an artist, teacher and social dissident. Kpaaza is an illustration he uses for his deep, scholarly and imaginative excursions in search of personal information. He appears from time to time in his works when he depicts excursions to the country of his predecessors or to foreign countries.
Simultaneously, Kpaaza also represents basic addressing and deep learning.
“We will now go to Kpaaza” mainly shows drawings and compositions by Uche Okeke from his collection. Today, this collection is known as the Asele Institute Collection and, in addition to his own work, it includes works by his students and various artists who are currently considered delegates of Nigerian modernism. Also on display are documents from the chronicles of the Asele Institute, including exhibition banners, flyers, photographs, and objects that Uche Okekes brought back from his travels to Germany in the 1960s.
One element of the exhibition is a progression of installations by Nigerian artist Jeremiah Ikongio. For “We Will Now Go to Kpaaza“, he moved Uche Okeke‘s drawings and figures into virtual spaces through sound installations and 3D displays, creating an augmented artistic reality.
“We will now go to Kpaaza” shows what encounters of movement and relocation have meant for Uche Okeke‘s creative practice. He resided in Munich for a time, where he focused on glass and mosaic making methods at the Mayer’sche Hofkunstanstalt. There, as elsewhere, he made contacts and developed individual and professional relationships that allowed him to engage in an unlimited dialogue with many artists and social organizations. His stay in Germany is portrayed in his book Art in Development – A Nigerian Perspective.
Ijeoma Loren Uche-Okeke (Nigeria/South Africa) and Nantume Violet (Uganda/Germany) organized the exhibition. They related Paul Klee’s phrase “A line is a place that wanders” to Nigerian uli, a style of drawing usually practiced by women. Lines that link different minutes of the artist’s life and work guide guests through the rooms. With the work of Uche Okeke, for example, they allow visitors to take part in the social extravagance that lies in the development and experience of individuals and their creative thoughts.