My visual art practice is driven by passion – Zinno Orara
Zinno Orara, one of Nigeria’s pre-eminent studio artists
celebrates his 30th anniversary with a solo exhibition at Terra
Kulture from November 16 to 25th, 2019. Proceeding under the theme, “STANDING
TALL” the exhibition showcases works that are representative of his creative
oeuvre. Thelagosreview.ng caught up with the artist recently during which he
spoke about the exhibition, his practice and creative predilection. Excerpts.
The Lagos Review: When is the exhibition?
Zinno Orara: November 16th to 25th, 2019 at Terra Kulture.
TLR: What is the theme of the exhibition and how many paintings
will be on show?
ZA: The theme is “STANDING TALL” and there will be 45 works on display.
TL: You seem to have an affinity for November. Your last solo
show was in November 2017. Why November?
ZA: November is significant for me. I was born on November, 17th.
Coincidentally, this exhibition is a celebration of my 30th Anniversary as a
TLR: You left school and instead of teaching or advertising
became a studio artist. How many other artists have done that in Nigeria and
why did you choose that path?
ZA: Most Art
Graduates in the 80’s and 90’s either taught or worked in Advertising Agencies.
Others worked with publishing houses as Cartoonists or Illustrators. I was
among the first generation of Artists that dared Studio practice…. It was
just passion driven!
TLR: Why are you in love with jute bags? They remain a defining
feature of your works?
ZA: Jute bags??? I love textures. They give me an even texture that tickle my fancy. The textures I get from jute bags take me to realms that canvases will never reach
TLR: You like to say textured surfaces. I prefer the term mixed
media. Why do you favour this stylistic approach?
ZA: Textures are
beautiful. A world without textures will be very boring. Image being on a fast
lane, we need a bit of bumps to slow us down…. Textures fascinate me.
TLR: The female form is a staple for artists but in your own
practice you rarely present the female form from a sensual perspective. Your
female subjects are either nurturing, empathetic or reflective as we see
in “Deep thots, Deep impression” which is reflective or “Friends
even at sunset” which shows friendship and empathy?
ZA: The woman is the most
beautiful creature created by God Almighty. I see beyond the lips, the hips and
the finger tips. I see beyond the beautiful curves. We must respect women. We
must treat them right. We must adore women…
TLR: Blue and yellow with sprinklings of brown predominate in
your works. Is this a conscious preference and if yes why?
ZA: Colour is my major
medium of expression. Every mood can be expressed with colours. My use of
colours is dependent on theme and mood. Colour is like sound. Art is like
music… They are languages accepted universally
TLR: Your style has not changed radically since the 90s. Is this
self-belief or an unwillingness to be experimental?
ZA: If there’s no connection between my works of yesterday and those of
today, then there’s a problem… There must be a connection or link even when
we metamorphose from one stage to another… Great things don’t change. They
just get better and better.
TLR: Your works in this exhibition are not limited to a certain
style or visual language. There are impressionist paintings like “They
had to leave with” its interplay of light and colours. There are also
landscape and almost hyper-realistic paintings like “Pathway to greatness”. Why
the eclectic approach?
ZA: I’m more concerned
about my message. The message determines my approach. I’m just a vessel. A
channel of communication. All Artists have the same materials. Our
personalities make the difference in our works.
TLR: There is a hazy quality which defines much of your
paintings. One is never sure whether it is sunset or sunrise. This quality
makes the viewer want to peer closer and engage. Is this deliberate and why?
ZA: Every great Art must
engage the viewer. Every great Art must ask questions. Every great Art must
answer questions. There’s so much happening around us. Let’s talk, write, sing
and paint…. Let’s tell ourselves some bitter truths!!!