VISUAL ART AND CORRUPTION: “Double Edged Sword”(Cutting Edge)



Just like water (wey no get enemy), this blog called VISUAL ART AND CORRUPTION always tries to find its own level. Don’t forget that in our maiden edition last year, we promised to keep serving up delicious dishes of VISUAL ART. So welcome to yet another menu where we begin each edition with an ARTtitude check. Just like world class chefs serve their specials in the form of 2 or 3 course meals, here we like to begin with the ARTitude CHECK as an appetizer to the FEATURED WORK.

So for today’s appetizer, we want to remind readers that a work of art is like a reservoir of psychological and spiritual energy. How much of these energies a piece carries would depend on the metaphysical limits of the medium coupled with the skill and genius of the artist. In other words (borrowed from physics), art is a scalar and vector quantity. That is it has both magnitude and direction.


This release would like to dig into a work titled DOUBLE EDGED SWORD by a Benin based artist, Don Okes. This is not the first work by Mr Okes where the painting features a subject covered by a large leaf. As a matter of fact, there is an explosive continuity between DOUBLED EDGE SWORD and his earlier work titled STRINGS OF GLORY which we can read about here

STRINGS OF GLORY features a man playing a guitar and a large green leaf covering his entire head and face. It thereby highlights the power of music to communicate joy even when the singer has been blinded by the greenness of the land that is meant to be green for him. Now in DOUBLE EDGED SWORD, we see 3 figures, that is a young man with his back facing the viewer and two young women on either side and with their whole heads and faces covered by a large leaf. So then how is the conceptual continuity established between Strings of Glory and Double Edged Sword? First of all by the presence of leaves covering faces and by the idea of not being discouraged by the rich greeness that is working against you instead of working for you. In Strings of Glory, music keeps the fire burning while in Double Edged Sword, it takes a man. The fact that the leaf covering the woman on the left has begun to fade suggests a change in season. Could it then be that the man who was playing the guitar is now the man in between two women. Having filled his soul with song, he is buoyant enough to take on two women. That is in the sense of getting them to take off the green and join him in looking at the moonlight and star lit skies

There is indeed an epic movement taking place in Nigerian contemporary art and these works reveal the imminence of corresponding changes in reality.

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