Writing Art History Since 2002

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Uzor Ugoala is a conceptual photographer/visual artist. He started off in photography as a means of curious artistic exploration, self-discovery and self-expression. His works mirror the ‘self’ and invite the viewer to engage in deep introspection

Uzor Ugoala, Pandora's Box, 2019. Archival Artpaper, 101,6 x 68,6cm. All images courtesy of the artist.Uzor Ugoala, Pandora’s Box, 2019. Archival Artpaper print, 66 x 91,4cm. All images courtesy of the artist.

With self-taught imagery technique, Ugoala conveys intense mood and emotion, drawing inspiration from diverse sources ranging from soul music, real-life experiences, human interaction and conversations, spirituality books and psychology literature. His craft has gradually morphed into works that intensely stimulate the viewer’s visual sense, challenging and poking at self-imposed psychological patterns that are reinforced passively or actively by culture and society.

The artist begins his creative process with a simple pencil sketch that maps out his ideas and props he will use. The props, which are hand-made from materials such as plastics, straw boards, spray paints, chains, plastic waste and bags, are essential to Ugoala’s work, who says, “It is my hope that my art and distinct imagery stimulates the viewer to engage in introspection and thus enter a realm of self-liberation.”

Dystopia, 2019. Arhival artpaper print, 101,6 x 68,6cm.

Dystopia is a dreary scene depicting people living as clones devoid of individual light and self-expression. They are objects of convention and stereotypes held in bondage and stripped of colour. They live as mechanical lifeless men heading to ‘nowhere’. According to Ugoala, “the world comes alive when people express their unique gifts when people reject convention and embrace human creativity.”

Free Will, 2019. Archival artpaper print, 66 x 76,2cm.Free Will, 2019. Archival artpaper print, 66 x 76,2cm.

“We have made choices in the past and those choices – regardless of however they turned out to be, good or bad – have shaped our present reality and disposition,” says Ugoala, when discussing Free Will, which contemplates the interplay between past choices and present consequences – how the decisions and choices we make affect our past, present and future. The artist feels that the human ability to choose – to make decisions – can be a blessing or curse, “The quality of a decision is dependent on what we learn from our past mistakes and victories and how well we understand cause and effect.”

Uzor Ugoala is a Nigerian artist based in Lagos. Follow him on Instagram at @uzorugoala

A Slice of Mindfulness I, 2019. Archival Artpaper print, 91,4 x 61cm.A Slice of Mindfulness I, 2019. Archival Artpaper print, 91,4 x 61cm.

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