ART Of Protest Gallery welcomes Nigerian artist Ben Ibebe to York for his solo show Afrofuturism from October 28 to November 6.
This will be complemented by a “live paint” at the Walmgate gallery on the eighth day, inspired by Ben’s first seven days in the city.
“Art Of Protest encourages urban contemporary conversations on environment, consumption, identity and the global audience,” says director Craig Humble.
That misison statement chimes with Ben’s own working practice: “The inspiration for my art comes from people,” he says. “How they respond to social, economic, political and economic forces in their daily living. The issues, ideas and events arising from man’s quest to contain and contend with these forces form the subject of my paintings.”
Ibebe’s exhibition, entitled Afrofurism, will display images of dense urban architecture, vibrant markets, tradition and romance in the context of West African living.
“When Ben takes up residence at the gallery for eight days, his exhibition will feature a series of unique oil paintings with a textural quality that bridges both abstraction and sculpture via the ordered chaos of thick impasto style of painting,” says Craig.
“While he is here, Ben will be setting up a temporary studio at the gallery where he will work as the exhibition takes place and will be available to meet if visitors call aheadon 01904 659008.”
Holding a BA in Visual Arts from the University of Port Harcourt, in Rivers State, Nigeria, Ben has held solo exhibitions internationally with collectors in many countries, including the United States, Germany, Canada, the United Kingdom and Nigeria.
His tactile paintings are highly figurative, bright in colour choice in oils and mixed media, geometric in composition, almost three-dimensional on the surface, with women deliberately accorded prominence in his depiction of everyday Nigerian life.
“The African woman is strong, beautiful and flowery,” Ben says. “They live in a male-dominated society, based on local cultural tradition with few rights, and are at the receiving end of man’s activities and yet strive so hard to eke out and sustain a living.
“So, I celebrate them by weaving my composition around them most times in their hours of needs, joy, pain and other human activities. Recently, my fixation is on the effect of Western attitudes, globalisation, human trafficking and technology on the African woman.”
Ben adds: “Men come into in my compositions, but they come in mostly as allegories in my political statements and are highly stylized. Other times, they are presented as engaged in male activities: drummers, horse riders, cattle herders, etcetera.”
As for his style, “The finished paintings often come off in the style of impressionism, other times idealism, abstract formalism dovetailing into semi abstraction and full abstraction,” he says.
Looking forward to his arrival in York this week, Craig says; “We’re excited to welcome Ben to the gallery, especially with it being our first exhibition with the artist in residence.
“We would encourage anyone to come down to the gallery to meet Ben and experience his artwork in person. The striking images of Nigeria’s rich cultural heritage colliding with a globalised art world is breaking new ground in process and colour management.
“At Art Of Protest, we want to showcase local, national and international artists to the people and visitors of York.”
Ben’s work already on show in the gallery can be viewed at artofprotestgallery.com.