PHCN, Please Help Clean Nigeria. “Ise Ni Ounise, Mura Si Ise Ore Mi” - Work Is an Antidote for Poverty: An Exhibition of Paintings by Master Water Colourist/ Artist and Social Critic, Ijalobomo
This essay is a critique of the “Nigerian condition” engaging the medium of painting. Categorising Ijalobomo’s water colours as “Windows” enables an understanding of messages captured within the paintings’ frames; and what statements they make as artifacts. Hence, it makes possible an analysis of the data, and evaluation beyond contemporary margins of subject matter in art, to understanding their functions as social symbolisms. In an empirical analysis, therefore, that is kernelled on the hermeneutic, specific images are looked at and evaluated beyond the customary margins of subject matter, to the understanding of their function as social criticism. Hence, subsequent information on statements about subject matter, medium and form engages Erwin Panofsky’s style Iconological/Iconographical analysis to give meaning to the paintings contents through a coherent merging of original, internal and external contexts. This coherent merging takes into consideration the subject matter of the picture, Ijalobomo’s social background, cultural conventions lyricised in a tableau of versed wisdom; and how such conventions have informed his themes. With a combination of theoretical frames drawn from Marxist and materialist perspectives on art are employed to address culture and economics as it functions in society. The strengths of the methods of interpretations of the images yield insights for critical social commentary. The PHCN water colours reveal Ijalobomo’s effectiveness at engaging a discourse of “change in the Nigerian condition” via the genre of tragedy lyricised in versed form, but couched in the vituality of painting. A return to the choreographed values rhymed in childhood and the hard work ethos is the recipe for change!
Keywords: critique, “the Nigerian Condition”, Windows, Mirrors, Contexts, Change