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
References: 1. Ola Olidi, Ilè Ọlà Ùlì: Nsukka Art as Fount and Factor in Modern Nigerian Art, In Ottenberg S. (Ed) The Nsukka Artists and Nigerian Contemporary Art (p. 239 – 252), (Washinton, D.C.: Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, 2002) 2. Barthosa Nkurumeh, Beyond Ulism: Printmaking in the Nsukka School, In Ottenberg S. (Ed) The Nsukka Artists and Nigerian Contemporary Art (p. 132 – 144), (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, 2002) 3. Uche Okeke, An Introduction to Contemporary Nigerian Art, (New Culture I no.2 , 1979) 18. 4. T.S. Elliot, The Sacred Wood: Essays on Poetry and Criticism, (London: Faber & Faber, 1922) 5. Chike Aniakor, Aka: A second Season of Harvest, AKA Exhibition Catalogue. (Enugu: Aka circle of Exhibiting Artists, 1987) 5. 6. Ernest Okoli was Head of Department, Fine and Applied Arts, University of Nigeria, Nsukka by 2007 and insisted on a practical (drawing) aptitude test as entrance examination into the Department of Fine and Applied Arts. 7. El Anatsui, Three Decades, Three Phases, Introductory note to So Far: Drawings, Paintings, Prints 1963 – 1993 (Lagos: Italian Cultural Institute, exhibition Catalogue, Bayreuth: Boomerang press …Norbert Aas, 1993) 9.