The Mind of an Artist

Art Student, Chiamaka Okenwa, answers the question, ‘What runs through the mind of an artist before the birth of a true masterpiece?’ This is a question that plagues everyone, especially in today’s chaotic world where your identity is easily lost.

The answer to this question is what I have set out to find in my visit to ‘Identities’, an exhibition at Denk Spaces. At the entrance to the gallery was a display by the exhibiting artist Erasmus Onyishi. What had at first appeared to be a mere tangle of wires and clutter took form upon more careful observation as a colony of ants marching up the wall. This mixed media piece, Openly Closed, was perhaps what opened our minds to the existence of other forms of art apart from realism, a concept we had been more or less closed off to.

Stepping into the building, eyes began to fill with wonder. Each separate work was a colorful and vivacious expression of the same, special theme: Identity. The exhibiting artists had identified themselves through their work by their choices of color, line, texture and form, and each work appealed to all of us in different ways. One of Henry Eghosa’s expressive works, depicting a woman in the process of dressing in traditional attire seemed to whisper, our culture is our pride. Stephen Osuchukwu, in his dignified rendition of an elephant herd, drew focus to the matriarch elephant whose leadership position is almost synonymous with its identity. This female cow is the oldest and largest in the herd and is responsible for leading the elephant herd. Their survival rests on her broad shoulders. On deeper reflection we realize that, perhaps, we are a sort of matriarch when we are given leadership positions.

Obinna Makata, in his work Beauty Deeper than Cosmetics II, leads us to realize the need to maintain our own unique identities in a world where society dictates what to wear, how we should look and, ultimately, who we become. Another work of his, Of Race and Identity, tells us Africans that we do not truly conform to the label [Black], but our identities are rainbows of color, because there is a splash of something special in each and every one of us. His artful employment of Ankara emphasizes individuality. Just as each Ankara pattern derives its beauty from its unique pattern, so we derive our own from our difference in identities.

Promise O’nali, whose novel style would identify him in the farthest corners of the world, gives us another take on the term, identity. Because who are we, really? It is something to be deeply reflected upon. His works, in a cool and simple manner, induce the viewer to observe the intricacy of man’s journey through life, and the constant battle to maintain his true self.

Holi 2018: The Underlying Significance Behind the Celebration of Colours

Holi is one of the largely celebrated Hindu festivals that signify the arrival of spring and also the triumph of the goodness over the evil. The major attraction of the Holi festival is the playing with the colours and the festivities have already begun this year.

Although this colourful festival has originated in the country of India, this festival is widely being celebrated in several places across the world. This write-up talks about all those things that you ought to know about this festival, the way this festival originated and the reasons why the colourful powder is popularly known as “gulal” is being used for playing Holi.

The festival of Holi begins every year on the full moon night of the month of “Phalguna” which usually falls in between the end of the month of February and mid of March. The festival carries on till the next day. In 2018, the festival initiates on 1st of March and this is the first of the two full moons in the month of March.

The first night of the festival of Holi is popularly referred to as the “Holika Dahan” or “Chhoti Holi”. The people gather in the evening of Holika Dahan around a bonfire in order to celebrate the winning of the good over the evil powers. The people perform several religious rituals that include the prayers and they pray to God asking that the evil inside them should be destroyed and they become good and pious human beings.

The day which follows the Holika Dahan is referred to as “Holi” or “Rang-wali Holi”. This is the main day of the festival when people colour their near and dear ones with colourful gulal and also colours their friends and families using water balloons and water guns in order to make the colours stick to the people.

This is crucial to know the underlying story behind the Holi celebrations. As per the beliefs that originate from the Hindu mythology, Holika is the sister of demon king named as Hiranyakashipu. This demon king was blessed with immortality and also the following five super powers:

– The demon king could never be killed by humans or animals.

– He could never be killed either outdoors or indoors.

– The demon king could not be killed either during the daytime or nighttime.

– He could never be killed either on land or air.

– The Hindu demon king could not be killed either with a handheld weapon or a projectile.

In the due course of time, the Hindu demon king started to misuse his powers and turned evil. So, his son Prahlad wanted to prevent his evil deeds and thus wanted to kill him. When the king realized that his son wanted to kill him, he asked his sister Holika’s help. The king and his sister made a plan where Holika would wear a fire-proof cloak and take Prahlad into the midst of the bonfire to kill Prahlad whereas Holika would remain unharmed. However, the fire-proof cloak happened to fly away from Holika’s shoulders and covered Prahlad. So, finally Prahlad was saved and evil Holika was killed in the bonfire. Then, Lord Vishnu himself appeared to kill the evil king Hiranyakashipu in such a way that he sidestepped all the five super powers that the king possessed.

Lord Vishnu appeared as Narasimha, who happened to be half-lion and half-human. He met the evil king on the doorstep which was neither outdoors or indoors. It was dusk and thus it was neither night nor day. Narasimha placed the evil king in his lap which was neither in the air nor in the land. He then attacked the evil king with the help of his lion claws which was neither handheld weapon nor a projectile.

The coloured gulal is being used in the second day of the festival to celebrate the love of Lord Krishna and his beloved Radha. Holi is considered as a fair game where the perfumed coloured powder named gulal is being used to colour each other. The colourful powder is also used to signify the onset of the pleasant season of spring as the nature also becomes absolutely colourful and pleasant during this season. As per history, gulal is being prepared from flower extracts and turmeric paste but in the present times, synthetic versions of gulal are also available. The four major colours used to prepare the gulal have four different significances. The red colour reflects fertility and love, blue is the symbol of Lord Krishna, green symbolizes new beginnings and the freshness of spring whereas the colour yellow is the colour of turmeric.