Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos is pleased to present an exhibition of new mixed media and painterly installations by acclaimed Lagos based artist Kainebi Osahenye. With over twenty years of artistic practice, this current incarnation Trash-ing builds on the continuous process of experimentation which has pushed the boundaries of his painting.
Trash-ing signals a new departure from his well-known large-scale neo-expressionist paintings towards the incorporation of more conceptual concerns through a format that increasingly borrows from an installation orientated process. Losing none of his gestural signature strokes, nor the luminosity of his colours or the edginess of his subject matter, Trash-ing highlights some of the issues that have pervaded his work for over a decade. In the recent works these existential, political, religious and everyday themes which habitually manifested with a degree of playfulness are presented less implicitly in favour of a suggestiveness which attests to the state of maturity he has attained in his career.
Osahenye moves seamlessly from the metaphysical to the physical, from the unreal to the real, foregrounding issues for which he is well-known and expanding on others such as globalisation, consumerism, man’s inhumanity and the environment forming the entral(nodal) focus of this new body of work. In so doing the exhibition’s title succeeds in playing on the multiple connotations of the word to ‘trash’ to signify destruction, abuse, rejection and waste. It also serves as an explicit reminder on the one hand of man’s disregard for one other and on the other, towards the environment.
Using appropriation as a tool, Osahenye’s most ambitious work to date is the ceiling to wall installation titled ‘Casualty’, 2009. Made of thousand of beer cans, the work is less about the ‘trendy’ fad in recycling than in acknowledging the limitation of the traditional mode of painting whilst simultaneously recognising the abilities and the possibilities of pushing boundaries without losing the essence of the painterly. On sighting the burnt cans near a garbage dump of a hotel in Auchi, Osahenye states that he ‘was instantly confronted with thoughts of war, cruelty, melancholy, pain, displacement, anguish and deformity and I started conceiving ways to install this large scale work to express the force and the power that I felt.’ Whether the totality of this and other works of the artist marks the beginning of the ‘new’ face of contemporary Nigerian painting remains to be seen.