The idea of self in solitude as an inward journey, against a beckoning dissonant beauty of the outside, is the inspiration behind Sor Sen’s latest body of work – Agwu Enekwachi writes
One of Nigeria’s young contemporary artists, Sor Sen, presented his recent paintings to viewers in Abuja, at an exhibition titled Here and There. In the artist’s characteristic style of creating hazy and wistful images, counterbalanced by colourful backgrounds, painted in varieties of linear strokes calcified into labyrinths, Sor Sen’s work which he refers to as “adventure into the mind,” surely engaged the audience. The introspections conveyed by his images, according to the artist are rooted in reality and are products of his streams of thought translated into imageries. By this, he has again drawn from his deep well of visual power to offer a distinctive narrative that captivates.
Realising his artistic gift early in life, and with the support of his interested parents, Sen soon saw himself creating art that distinguished him as a young talent that has a date with destiny. He holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria-Nigeria’s premier art school. Many have come to associate his style with postimpressionism-a 19th-century art movement in Paris, characterized by thin visible brush strokes and openness in composition. No matter the art movement or style that may resonate in Sen’s work, there is no doubt that he has, through a combination of training, talent and hard work, carved a creative niche in the genre of painting in Nigerian contemporary art space. Sen has strings of awards from bodies such as the National Gallery of Art, Life in My City Art Festival and other local and international bodies to show for his successful practice.
On the idea of self and solitude and the beckoning of dissonant beauty of the outside, as the underlying inspiration behind his current show, Sen says, “as my mother’s only child, solitude is a reality that has been a part of my existence, and for this, I have decided to explore it in this body of work.” Despite the noise in the world and its attractions, Sen, believes that there is beauty in solitude and that people should sometimes take time away from the crowd. “My paintings are usually of lone figures engaged in acts of self-exploration, which I consider an extension of my experiences unto my canvases. When you are alone, your creative energy is more intense, but you tend to lose that if you are with the crowd.” Perhaps, for this reason, there has always existed a longstanding kinship between art and solitude. For Sen, solitude can be focused on making changes that are both personal and of benefit to society. An aspect of the theme explored in this show is, what the artist calls “Multiplicity of Personalities.” He examines the lack of consensus in human behavioural patterns, “a person is beyond the two eyes, two ears, the nose and mouth we see, but is an embodiment of multiplicity of emotions and experiences, with different perceptions. “This is the concept I tried to represent as sketchy apparitions in the Multiplicity of personality suite.
In each of Sor Sen’s paintings, the background is treated with a hue or more of broken strokes of colours, which often project and swirl around the images in the composition. “Despite my love for solitude, I still desire to be an outgoing person. It is this tension that you find between the images and the backgrounds in my paintings and it reminds me of the need for balance in life,” says the artist. Sen believes that the mellowness in his paintings came with maturity, as “I no longer embrace stark representations in my work, but try to capture essences, an approach that engages my viewers more intellectually.”
Some of the works shown in the exhibition include, Alone but Never Lonely III, (Oil on Canvas, 92x122cm, 2018), Hopeful Gaze (oil on canvas, 92x119cm, 2017), Bridge Partners, (oil on canvas, 100x117cm, 2018), and works under the following series-Multiplicity of Personality, This Maze called Life and Melodies of freedom. As the audience engage with the depth and introspection of this remix of Sor Sen’s stylistic progression, we are reminded of an imaginative world where we ought not be stuck in stagnant images, but restlessly search, evolve and recreate in a way that our imagination and creativity are kept alive as an authentic part of the social fabric.
Here and There, a solo Exhibition was held between April 3 to 12, at Bouygues Club House, Life Camp, Jabi, Abuja.
Agwu Enekwachi (MFA) is an Abuja based artist, and culture writer.
This article was originally published in the New Telegraph Newspaper.