TRANSFORMATIONS OF THE COMMONPLACE IN EVA OBODO’S SCULPTURES, 1997 – 2015
The transformation of commonplace objects into art is a creative strategy popularized in Western art by Marcel Duchamp and explored in different dimensions by artists worldwide. In the art department of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, this trend was made popular by the Ghanaian artist El Anatsui who taught there for many years. Eva Obodo, a pupil of Anatsui, has constantly transformed commonplace materials into art by multiplying simple elements into a monumental whole. This study attempts to examine his sculptures in terms of how Obodo has succeeded in creating his own personal style from what appears to be a new group style characterizing the works of many younger artists associated with Nsukka today. In doing this, this study adopts a historical and analytical approach in its examination of the development of Eva Obodo’s studio practice from 1990 till date. It finds that Obodo has been restless pin his studio inquiry, leading to an ever shifting technique and style, all tied together by his constant use of commonplace materials and his deployment of modular elements for intricately organized works. By studying these developments in the light of the work of a community of artists connected to Nsukka, this study opens discussion on the emergence of a new kind of Nsukka Group outside of the discursive frame adopted by Simon Ottenberg in his examination of the uli aesthetic that once defined much of Nsukka art.