Arts & Design

Joshua Nmesirionye: On His Mastery of Textured Paintings, Sculptures

Joshua Nmesirionye

*Presents first solo exhibition in Lagos


Having carved a niche for himself in painting and sculpting for over twenty years, the Auchi Art school trained artist, Joshua Nmesirionye makes a debut solo exhibition ‘Symphony’ an experience to remember at the Yenwa Gallery, Victoria Island, Lagos. Yinka Olatunbosun shares an excerpt of a brief encounter with him.


I understand that you have a career spanning over two decades, but this is your debut solo show. Why did you wait this long?


I am a full-time studio artist and that means I depend totally on what I do as an artist. I don’t have any other side hustle. I am fully dependent on my work. For me, that means I have to take care of myself and my family and doing so doesn’t allow me to accumulate artworks towards a solo exhibition. For the works on display, it has taken me about four years to put them together. They could take that long for an artist to come up with an exhibition. I have been involved in several exhibitions before now, but this is my debut show.


Does the theme symphony stem from your love for music or what really informs that choice of theme?


I can say that I love music but symphony does not necessarily have to be about music. It could be in literature or visual arts. It depends on how you see the world. Apparently, symphony is one of the titles for the work on display. It is a theme that has been used to capture the whole essence of the work on display. We are talking about works that are in tune with each other; that have almost the same stylistic tendency to appeal to the eyes.


I am intrigued by your paintings. I am quite familiar with what people do with the palette knife but how did you get this type of texture for your paintings?

Some of Nmesirionye’s paintings at the Yenwa Gallery


I work basically with textured surfaces. I had to prepare the materials myself. Sometimes, I use newsprint, the kitchen towel, and tissue paper. So, the texture varies. Anyone that appeals to me or the subject matter that I am treating at a particular moment. That gives me an idea of what to use for the surfaces.


What’s your guiding philosophy?


What is worth doing is worth doing well. If you are doing art, you want to convey your thoughts properly in whatever style you choose to express yourself. I will say do it well. If you set out to do something, do it well. It may not connect with everybody but for a few people that it connects with, it does make sense to them because your thoughts are similar and the way you see things are similar. For every artist whether young or old, do your work well.


Would you say that your Auchi school background contributed to the choice of colours in your works?


Yes, I studied from the Auchi school and that philosophy works for me. Some call the school a colour school and the works are indeed colourful. I am just seeing them like this. In the studio, I couldn’t even see them this brightly. But they pop out of the white walls. The Auchi colour school has influenced my work. Even though I have a little background from the fact that I was also mentored by great master Olaku and I did my industrial training at the universal studio, those influences can be seen in the works even though the subject matters are not what you will ascribe to Olaku. Every artist has to find his path whether you are an emerging artist …eventually, you will find your niche and settle down with that. I think over the years that is what I have done with the style on display. I am from Abia state.


How has it been with affirming your status as a sculptor and a painter?


I wouldn’t say it is easy. For an artist, there is always a struggle. It is like playing the balancing game. You need to be consistent in the art market. Are you for the long haul? Quite a number of artists that I know have moved on to something else because it is indeed very difficult to be an artist in this clime that we are. For some of us who have stayed true to our calling, we have been able to make a headway.


We have quite a whole lot of young artists out there making names for themselves. The true artist remains for the long haul. I have 21 works on display, 6 of them are sculptures and 15 are paintings.,


Which is your most difficult work?


I would say that work titled “Uneasy Lies the Head”…That work, I had signed off on it some years back and I put it back in a gallery. It seemed as though I forgot about the work and the gallery. One day, the gallery called me and told me that they had the work. I took it and I kept looking at it in my studio. Of course, the way I see things now and back then are different. I have developed my ability to that extent that I know which direction to go with a particular work. I didn’t have enough experience. I just knew I was working with that same theme in mind. But when I looked at the work again, I had to revisit it.


I am not the type that quickly rush to show my works. We are not selling food stuff. This takes a lot of thinking and how to manipulate the materials.







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