ART PROFESSIONALISM, SHIFTING IDENTITIES AND CREATIVE CORRESPONDENCES IN THE WORKS OF OBIORA UDECHUKWU

ART PROFESSIONALISM, SHIFTING IDENTITIES AND CREATIVE CORRESPONDENCES IN THE WORKS OF OBIORA UDECHUKWU

ABSTRACT

Obiora Udechukwu’s name is synonymous with the Nsukka Art School. He is also known nationally and internationally. His art career has been eventful and aesthetically rewarding.  He works in diverse media such as oil, acrylic, watercolour, pen and ink, lithographs, linocut, aquatint, graphite and pastel, and he is best known for his highly linear style which draws extensively from the traditional uli art and other linear art forms like nsibidi and Chinese Li art. In 1995, he left for the United States of America, where his professionalization in art has continued to make him produce enduring visual statements. Numerous scholarly works have been written on Udechukwu, but a comprehensive research, which articulates his art career in Nigeria and in the United States of America, is yet to be carried out. This study, therefore, attempts to fill this vacuum. Employing historical and analytical processes, it provides an update on Udechukwu’s art career, using art professionalism, shifting identities and creative correspondences as critical frameworks.  Obiora Udechukwu’s art career in Nigeria and cin the United States of America is marked with experimentation. Noticeable changes seen in his works in the Diaspora are the development of more organic and multi-linear compositions, as well as the increased use of text in pictorial configuration. The Nigerian civil war, his Igbo roots, indigenous art forms, as well as socio-political issues are dominant themes in his art. He has contributed to the development of modern Nigerian art through numerous national and international exhibitions, workshops and conferences. His art career has brought international attention to the Nsukka Art School, and he has trained, as well as influenced many modern Nigerian artists.