BONA EZEUDU: Solace in the Studio

Thought Pyramid Art Centre

 the artist struggle through the grief from the kidnap of his only son

Bona Ezeudu (B. 1956) is known for his expressive canvas and board paintings and his utilitarian and ornamental wrought iron sculptures. With his expressive and stylistic explorations Ezeudu presented a travelling exhibition titled A Box of Delights at Thought Pyramid Arts Centre, Abuja in 2015, where he showed his recent experiment with conventional painting media. This exhibition uses selected works from the exhibition to narrate how the artist struggled through the grief from the kidnap of his only son and how he turned to his studio as a solace and fought depression through painting.

Tragedy Strikes

Bona Ezeudu has spent a greater part of his career advocating for the arts; he established a modern art gallery in Enugu – the Bona Gallery – which provided support for emerging artists. For at least three decades, enthusiasts of Nigeria’s visual arts scene have been familiar with the name Bona Ezeudu. In the mid-1980s, Mr. Ezeudu emerged as a sought-after artist, a member of the highly regarded Aka circle of artists whose inaugural exhibition held in 1986. For a while, it seemed a safe bet that only diminished personal drive could possibly stand between Bona and a soaring career as an artist. Then on September 26, 2009, he and his wife Ngozi, a teacher, received a very sad news. It was the kidnap of their 19-year-old son, Lotachukwu – Lota, as family and friends called him. One casualty of Lota’s disappearance was that Bona’s artistic creations ceased. For more than three years, he devoted his time entirely to ensuring that those responsible for harming his son were brought to justice. A consummate artist, it was for Bona a huge sacrifice to have to put aside his art to find justice.

A few years later in 2013, Bona re-emerged into the exhibition galleries with a fresh and even more expressive energy. Bona’s friend and former secondary school mate, Okey Ndibe notes “During a recent visit to Nigeria, I was privileged to visit Bona’s gallery and to see some of the paintings for this upcoming exhibition. I had anticipated a certain funereal twist to the work, a reflection of the artist’s tormented spirit. Instead I was delighted to see that the paintings are some of the most exuberant and triumphant creations of Bona’s extraordinary career. Indeed, the paintings bear the unmistakable mark of Bona’s artistic signature – a fluid and bold deployment of colors, crisp attentiveness to imagistic details, and an abiding interest in exploring the intersection between the material and immaterial realms of experience.”

As Bona re-emerged, he currently uses his personal tragic experience as a point of departure to create social commentary.

In 2014, more than 200 girls were kidnapped from their school in Chibok to Sambisa forest, northern Nigeria. From experience, Bona responded to this tragic event in his works Sambisa Forest I and II.

The artist notes that: "The girls dropping like leaves. That symbolises their inability to take care of themselves and decide their fate at this point in time."

Bona’s current work is a testament that art can offer humans a means of triumph over pain, tragedy and evil.

Credits: Story

Photographs by Nnaemeka Egwuibe and Iheanyichukwu Onwuegbucha.

Image copyrights: Bona Ezeudu.

Exhibition created by the staff of Thought Pyramid Art Centre.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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