In relation to Tapestry of Life: New Beginnings Exhibition
‘’I believe that the beauty of a creative person is the freedom to create as you will. I shouldn’t be forced to do works or engage in creativity that I am not deeply inspired to do. When I have a statement to make, I say it the way I am motivated by my inner desire and my convictions to do it. All this years there was a contentment working with wood and that was what I was doing. But those who know my stories know I have always painted like every other trained painter; only that I painted on wood. I may decide to paint on cloth, on a car, on your body etc. it depends on the direction of my muse’’
Show after show, Ndidi has, in truth, shown that she had other dimensions to her artistic enterprise that had not been allowed to flower; or had been deliberately encouraged to rest in her huge cauldron of experiences and encounters with the dynamics of art practices from other parts of the world.
But why is Ndidi painting now; in this show? Perhaps boredom with wood? Fed up, with sculpture
No, I am not bored with wood at all.
But you haven’t worked on canvas or board for so many years.
No, I have not! In fact, not for years now. That’s exactly the way it is, but as an artist you are free to continue experimenting with new ideas, themes, media, materials and processes
And you’re not reaching to some people saying why doesn’t she paint anymore?
I think I am a very free spirit, I do what I feel inside. I don’t think there’s undue extraneous influence in all I have done so far in my career. That has never moved me. If you give me any media I can manipulate it to create something intriguing, be it clay, metal, paper, shoe laces and mixed media etc.
Twenty years plus is a landmark in the career of any artist; and now Ndidi, reputed for her woodwork, is going back to painting, where she started from….
Isn’t there some other motive for going back to painting?
I feel within myself…I am somebody who is always willing to add something new. If you look at my very first exhibition, that should be in 1986, there were paintings mixed and sculpture; after that, I step down painting on canvas and concentrated on sculpture. My show in 1987 was mainly sculpture relief’s, some of which I also freed them from the spatial limitation of the wall and put them on the floor of the exhibition hall. I found something deeply motivating in the wood; I fell in love with texture of the wood the spoken language of the wood, the different grades and innate colours and I thought I had so much to say with wood. There were so much that wood would enable me to say that another media at that point in time could not. That was it
Increasing one's visual repertoire is a constant challenge for me.
I am not defending my self, it’s just a drive and emotion, as I said there is no outside influence it’s the desire of an artist.
When did the urge for the canvas hit you?
The overwhelming need to paint on canvas started in June 2004, before that because of my insecurity and trepidation I experimented with some small paintings on paper once I had done this, I was confident to paint on canvas.
Sure you’re not trying to say that in 20years, there were so many things you wanted to say, which the wood medium did not allow you to say? And thought probably painting would be the appropriate medium…?
I didn’t say that but I felt I wanted something diverse from what I was doing before. I just had new ideas and I felt I could say them in a new medium using acrylic with other textured elements that activate the canvas…
What do you think of those who have been used to your wood? Have you asked from them what they think of you changing your medium? I have an impression that some of your collectors might be puzzled: why is she painting?
Yes you are right: That’s exactly one of the thoughts that came to my mind when I started painting: ‘Why is she painting now?’ `What has happened to her? ‘And as you said: ‘is she tired of wood?’ for me, art is continuum.
As an artist in terms of your creative development, any media you think or feel comfortable with, you can work with. Remember that traditionally, I was a painter and my very early expressions were mixed media before I went to painting, to sculpture and now back to painting. So painting has been a part of my work all these years anyway. I had been painting on wood. I just decided to do it on canvas this time around. So for the collectors, I am just hoping everybody will feel ‘this is great!’ ‘She is expanding her media’; and that ‘she has raised the bar in terms of her many facets of creativity’.
Yes, you have been painting on wood, but would you agree that your colour scheme became so vibrant and evocatively emotive when you brought it out on the canvas? Hasn’t something happened around your creative life?
These things bubble in your sub-conscious. I’ve always liked colours, raw sienna, burnt umber, yellow ochre colours that have to do with nature of the earth etc. the use of white, is evocative of calm, contemplation, stillness, and peace. So for me, this is an exhibition of my sub-conscious in terms of the colour scheme. Its just happens when I start painting. I want the colours to be perfect.
- Words by Jahman Anikulapo & Ndidi Dike
- Images of Paintings by Onyema Offeodu-Okeke