There's a secret to understanding the mystery behind the hidden message in a work of mixed-media art. As renowned artiste Henrimowetaover the year, has immersed himself in the creative words and works of the Mixed Media Art, In this exclusive interview with Micheal Akinboboye, the Mixed Media Artist shares creative perspectives and intimate thoughts, answering provocative questions not only in words, but multiple times as art, spotlighting the forces that make the art and the artists what and who they are and unlocks this mystery and providing an intimate look into the hearts, souls and creative processes of surprising portraits, innermost self-reflections and unlocking the door to a greater understanding of how and why art is made.
When artist Henrimoweta closes his eyes at night he never knows when dreams will open a door to hir next inspiration. “I generally dream what I want to work on next,” he said. “It is definitely an ‘exhilirating!’ moment.”
Henrimoweta, who recently saw the end of a mixed media exhibit at his African Art gallery and the Sheraton Hotels respectively, to do a demonstration on printmaking. People who visited the museum for the exhibit were treated to delicate prints on unusual surfaces, such as feathers and leaves.
Part of this show takes from a series he did on his Native Nigerian ancestry called “blue Feeling, Praise God, Kneeling toe, Win, vanity, unity of purpose and It Is the Not Knowing That Burns My Soul.” Thus the use of feathers in his work.
“The basis of that series was creating art based on what I did not know,” he said.
That he is Native eastern-Nigerian is not in doubt, however. The mixed media show highlighted much of what Henrimoweta does in his work, but not nearly everything. Henrimoweta’s self-styled work which harkens to his Nigerian heritage as well as one of his ways of painting looks like he paints with his feet. Not by putting a brush between his toes but by putting his bare feet in the paint itself.
“I really can’t remember how I get started with my creative works. I think I always want to try something new.”
For the artiste, the results of his creative thought process are always remarkable, and for those who struggle to draw stick figures, the paintings Henrimoweta has made will make you feel that much worse. All his paintings are easily recognisable. This is not abstract art.
Under his lecturer’s tutelage Henrimoweta finished his degree at Auchi Polytechnic, since then she has had exhibited across the London, United States and received much recognition for his work.
“It is never easy. It is one thing to produce art, another to be in the business of art,” he said. “I still have been accepted more than rejected, as Nigeria is an interesting cultural experience.”
For an August visitor to the gallery, located within the neigbourhood of Adebayo Mokuolu Street in Anthony Village area of Lagos,one is bound to mistake it for one of the eatery outlets in town. Occupying an expansive space within the down-floor of an imposing one-storey mansion, the gallery is a delightful sight. The front view of the gallery, breezy as it were, bore the semblance of a relaxation centre. Reclining plastic chairs, gravel elevated floor and species of natural paintings were some of the finest attributes that distinguished Henrimoweta African Art Centre from the rest of private galleries domiciling in the Lagos metropolis.
Henrimoweta Art Centre, established some 10 years ago is one of the rare outlets that brings the works of art close to the people. Located opposite Hotel Newcastle, a major hospitality home in the Anthony residential area of Lagos metropolis, the centre itself remains a sight to behold. Right inside the gallery lives moving works of art: paintings, sculptures in wood and metal, fabrics and paintings in water and oil colours.
Complaining of unpaid royalties, and other monies accruing to them for their works, Henrimoweta, a 1986 fine arts graduate of the Auchi polytechnicdecided to do something about it. His greatest dream was to set up a gallery where artists would have a greater say and accruals come to them from the sale of their works. At that time, he asked himself, "What is the big deal on setting up a gallery?" It was this search that led to the creation of Henrimoweta Gallery some seventeen years ago.
And since then, the Auchi Polytechnic trained artist has staged about seventeen exhibitions for Nigerian artists. A recent exhibition tagged "Arts and Objects" also like that of preceding years attracted about twenty artists. With about one hundred and twenty-five artworks and objects done in media ranging through watercolour, fibre glass, wood, metal, mixed media and even on papyrus, it turned out to be a refreshing dimension to pooling creativity.
Welcoming your eyes on entry through the gravelled entrance is a set of four chairs and a centre table. The chairs made by Ifesinachi, an Abuja-based sculptor whose work is awesome, is among the retinue of artists who gathered for the event. Four chairs and a centre table carved in Ogbuh wood and decorated with leopard skin.
Then, "Sharing," by the Auchi Polytechnic trained artiste, provides a vivid image of two well-dressed women exchanging gists. It depicts the sort of pastime women are unfairly noted for. For the artiste,"Thoughts", a mixed media best expresses the intrigues of the thought processes.
An abstract carving, "Living Things" by Henrimoweta sits elegantly in the gallery an uprooted piece of wood jutting out on Maroko was seen by Henrimoweta along Maroko in Lagos. According to him, "some idle boys" helped put it in the trunk of his car. This piece of wood was to occupy a part outside his gallery for a year while the artist’s thoughts roamed. He finally got it treated, asked a sculptor friend to hew it according to specifications he gave and voila, that trunk became "Living Things" which he placed on display. But he is quick to say that the abstract piece is not for sale.
Another work, "Through the narrow gate," an oil on canvas work by Moweta borrows from a biblical theme of the end times. So graphic and spiritual is the work that it transports the viewer into what eternity might hold. Apart from paintings, objects such as masks, chairs, tables, and decorative pieces such as a beautifully designed tortoise shell were on display. On some of his challenges, he is quick to point out the relegation of the arts in the mindset of many Nigerians as number one.