Songs of Harvest: Introductory Notes on “Retrospection”

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  • Topic: Art, Nsukka group, Nigeria
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  • Published : May 27, 2013
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INTOODUCTORY ESSAY FOR THE 42nd CONVOCATION EXHIBION OF THE UNIVERSITY OF NIGERIA OPENED JANUARY, 2012 AT NNAMDI AZIKIWE LIBRARY, UNIVERSITY OF NIGERIA, NSUKKA SONGS OF HARVEST: Introductory Notes on “Retrospections”

The Department of fine and Applied Arts of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka has gained great respect for its creative, intellectual, and ideological contributions, inducing what Ola Oloidi1 referred to as “a culture of art experimentation and art scientification”. The myth that Nsukka art does not and perhaps cannot extricate itself from the powerful grips of uli may have fed on the realities of the early 1970’s when Uche Okeke joined the staff of the Nsukka School. Just as Barthosa Nkurumeh2 explained that, “apart from the convergence of similar spirits, the disposition of the students to experimentation and the structure of the African art history courses provided the bearing for the emergence of Ulism as an art language. In the search for a visual language, many modernists have come to adapt traditional forms and ideas to their art. On this note, Uzo Egonu as quoted by Uche Okeke3 predicts the current situation when he suggested that schools should be based on “Exploration of our Culture”, he further explained that “It should not only be to our benefit, but to that of the people who shall come after us… we cannot tell what another generation may make out of what we may establish now, but I am sure it would be a guidance and a record to them”. It is on this note that the uli tradition and its variations generated over the years has continued for decades with artists like Obiora Udechukwu, El Anatsui, Tayo Adenaike, Chijioke Onuora and Krydz Ikwuemesi among others. Since the foundation of this tradition, the students’ products has shown strings of influences from the uli with its variations which has also found its way to this present graduates whose style has kept faith with the tradition. However, according to T.S. Elliot4, tradition...
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