“People To People”
In this exhibition, Osahenye digs into issues that relate to the environment, identity, consumerism and spirituality. The work, ‘People to People’ consists of hundreds of burnt aluminium cans that would be nailed side by side to the wall with tiny, almost invincible nails. The engagement with aluminium cans bears huge global significance and meaning. The aluminium cans come from the consumer society and has further been subjected to burning thereby altering its identity. Attached on the flattened cans are photographic cut-out of eyes (from Nigerians and Indonesians) and fabric (echoing flags that implicate both countries). The cut-out eyes have passed through digital process to appear as a document that reveals who we are as humans (eyes are the window to the soul) while the fabric is an article of trade. There is a certain kind of tactility to the work. It further scrutinizes the spirit in the material/object by allowing them to interact. In composing the piece, created in repetitive patterns, attempts to bring people (photographs of eyes) and things (cans and fabric) together to understand the relationship between them. Nigeria and Indonesia continues to show strong commitment to promoting interaction not only from government to government but also from people to people. Consider the Dutch wax fabric popularly known as the ‘African print’ or ‘Batik’, which dominates the textile industry in Nigeria, gained its invention in Indonesia. This question mark print has inspired artists and fashion trends in Nigeria. Using fabric with colours that echo the flags of these two nations can stake legitimate claims about their harmonious or conflicting relationships. Flags are potent patriotic symbols with wide varying range of interpretations. In a way, this work, raises questions about what binds a people together.
Kainebi Osahenye was born in Agbor, Delta State, Nigeria in 1964 and studied general art at both Auchi Polytechnic, Auchi in 1986 and Yaba College of Technology, Lagos majoring in painting in 1989 for the award of both the Ordinary National Diploma and Higher National Diploma respectively. He explores such various mediums as installation, mixed-media photography, installation, found object and painting. 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. The most monumental work of Kainebi was “Trash-ing”, shown at Center for Contemporary Art Lagos, in 2009. He has undertaken several residencies at Harmattan Workshop Agbara Ator, Nigeria, Vermont Studio Centre, Johnson, USA and the School of Visual Art, New York in the USA. His works are to be found in public and private collections in Nigeria and abroad.