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Wednesday, 18 July 2018 17:53 Francis Odupute Academic
Print

Printmaking, the process of making artworks by printing, is ever evolving with diverse possibilities for us to explore. And as contemporary African printmaking artists continue to stretch their creative thinking to increase originality and indigenousness, new frontiers are broadening printmaking’s audience engagement, aesthetic values and polemic contents in tandem with current cultural consciousness and needs within the prism of creativity cum imagination.

Recently, one of such contemporary African resilient printmakers came up from a long research with an imbuing exhibition that documented a key aspect of Great Benin’s cultural history: the Benin monarchy. Mr. Paul Aikhionbare, an artist and lecturer with the Department of Fine and Applied Arts, University of Benin (UNIBEN), said the exhibition entitled “Facets of The Benin Monarchy in Prints”, was the result of his efforts “… to document the rich cultural heritage of the Benins” using printmaking art form.

Mr. Aikhionbare said “The Benin Monarchy is the pivot around which the cultural heritage of the Benin people revolves. My fascination for the cultural heritage of the Benin people was actually kindled in 2006, when I embarked on a research that was focused on the coronation of Oba Erediauwa of Benin. There were startling revelations that positively altered my mindset about the people of Benin and their culture.”


The exhibitor conceded that “Before that time, just like every other person who has allowed the western civilization and maybe religion, to becloud their sense of value for tradition, I actually had no value for cultural things. But as I went about the research I found out several things about the Benins, I found out why they do what they do. And such findings have resulted in what we’re seeing today; because, if we don’t have information about our culture we cannot begin to have the right value for culture. So, the information I was able to gather during my research prompted me, made me to realize that the Benins have a culture we could all revere. During the course of my research I found out that most of the materials we have out there as regards to the history of the Benins were written by foreigners, and as a result I also found out that because of their wrong mindsets, facts were wrongly documented. So I’m only drawing in in helping record our history. As we know, nobody can tell your story better than you.

“…art has a way of putting things in a concrete manner. What you can see and relate with is different from what you write or read from books. These artworks are put together, they’re documentation of different aspects of the people of Benin…you’ll see that from one work to the other, we’re reliving history. Because when you talk about the Benin monarchy, you cannot really separate it from the people of Benin because, the Benin monarchy and the Benin people are so inter-twined; so, whatever we’re saying about the monarchy we are equally talking about the Benins because they’re inseparable. The average Benin man – I mean that Benin man who has not lost his sense of value for tradition – has so much reverence for the monarchy. For the Benins, the kind of reverence we have for our monarch is only next to that we have for God.

The artist urged viewers of his exhibited artworks “to see beyond what the artist had tried to represent. What I mean is that every work there tells a story”, a story deeply etched in the artist/researcher’s imbuing personal documentation of the recent coronation of Oba Ewuare II, as well as his research on the Benin monarchy in 2006.

Professor John Ogene, H.O. D of Fine and Applied Arts, UNIBEN, in an introduction to the exhibition, said “Printmaking is a form of art that creates the avenue for a considerable degree of experimentation. This has, to a large extent, made the materials and techniques diverse. Just as new materials evolve from experimentation, so do new techniques. Thus, the exhibitor, Mr, Pauk Aikhionbare, has greatly explored various printmaking techniques like collagraph, plastography, addictive plastograph, plastocast, monoprint, serigraphy and seriplast. The seriplast technique is a new innovation by the exhibitor. It is a creative combination of the serigraphy and plastography techniques. This gives some overwhelming effects as shown in some of the exhibits”.

Also speaking, Professor Efemena Ononome of the same department, said the exhibition “brings to the fore the rich cultural heritage which Benin is known for worldwide. It is indeed an established fact that one cannot separate the institution of the Benin Monarchy from the history of the people of Benin. This is attributed to the fact that everything about the people of Benin seems to copiously revolve around the Oba. Hence, this exhibition is in furtherance of the documentation of the history of the people of Benin, a great civilization whose nucleus remains the monarchy.”

Some of the remarkable images from the printmaking exhibition included: “Oba Erediauwa” (Seriplast; 44x32cm); “Royal Outing” (Plastocast; 36x42cm); “Melody Makers” (Plastograph; 56x36cm); and “Ede” (Seriplast; 28x40cm) amongst others.

Image Courtesy of TES Teach - https://www.tes.com/lessons/vNmmlc4cIIJibQ/printmaking


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