Gerald Chukwuma, astounding Nigerian contemporary artist was born in 1973. His artistic perspective leads him towards creations unseen before, confirming his strong personality and artistic imaginary. The distinctive trait of his production stands in intricately crafted wood-slate artworks.
In particular, his approach to the artistic creative process is remarkable. Chukwuma oversteps the boundaries of the known, burning, chiseling, and painting common and waste materials. Through his art, the material acquires new personal and political meaning.
His work distinctly recognizes Uli and Nsibidi symbols as a fundamental feature of his identity as an artist. The Nsukka art tradition is a way to display the Nigerian socio-political environment. That is why Chukwuma often references in his work to migration. He sees it as a constant process of transformation and renewal.
Chukwuma integrates different elements and mediums creating a uniform emotional painting. However, in reaching the homogeneity, he preserves the inner essence of each medium. Above all, the result is spiritual and primordial. His quest is anthropological, social and human.
Gerald Chukwuma career and education
Chukwuma’s commitment to art is remarkable. He is one of those artists who have a vocation since their childhood.
Even if without the support of his family, the artist attended the prestigious University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Already during his studies, Chukwuma distinguished himself for his remarkable works. That is why he received First Class Honours when he graduated in 2003.
Particularly relevant for his career are the 2008 and 2012. Chukwuma emerged as one of the top three winners of eminent national art competitions. Soon after, he featured a CNN program where he showcased his artworks.
Another important moment was when he received a commission from the University of Nigeria. Chukwuma had to create two monumental pieces for the university library and the vice Chancellor’s complex.
Since then, the artist participated in more than 20 exhibitions in the last decade. His shows brought his creations in Nigeria, France, Cameron, Holland, Denmark, and the United States. In addition, his works become auction favorites.
Gerald Chukwuma exhibitions
Chukwuma has participated extensively in group and solo shows across Nigeria and internationally.
Among his most remarkable first solo exhibition, there is the one at Gallery 1957, Ghana, in 2017. His solo shows include: Highlife II, Ethnocentrique, Lagos (2013); Soaking Up Beauty, Constant Capital, Lagos (2014); People’s Paradise, Temple Muse, Lagos (2016); Standing Ovation, Gallery 1957, Accra (2017); and Wrinkles, Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, London (2019).
Group exhibitions include: The Unbreakable Nigerian Spirit, Galarie 23, Amsterdam (2008); 1-54 London with Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery (2019); Kubatana, curated by Kristin Hjellegjerde, Vesfossen Kunstlaboratorium, Norway (2019); Reclaiming Africa, Goethe-Institute, Lagos (2009); In Pursuit of Knowledge, Civic Centre, Lagos (2009); Essentials, Alexis Galleries, Lagos (2015); and The Art Story, Cartoon Art Gallery, UAE (2018).
Art we love: Chukwuma’s carefree darkness
Gerald Chukwuma’s artistic visual is unforgettable. Above all, this artist has the capacity of using African symbols and giving them new freshness. Surely, he is rising as a remarkable contemporary artist internationally. His art is characterized by earthy colors laid out on etched wooden panels. In particular, his chromatic palette includes as well touches of bright tinctures. These give his works an uncatchable profoundness.
Wood has a prominent role as an artistic medium. Chukwuma not only combines it with other materials but uses as well different types of wood for his paintings.
“I never use one wood for one work. It is like a piano. They all have their notes.”
The focus of his production concerns cultural and social issues, particularly those related to Nigeria. The carefree darkness of his production conveys powerful messages. Not last, he incites the viewer to reflection.
Chukwuma’s art is immediately recognizable, suggesting a powerful expressive need and fervid inspiration. The same effect inspired to the viewer is immediate and deep. The artist defined the process of creation as something tempestuous and passionate:
“I don’t think art should be organized because thoughts are not organized. They erupt like a volcano. You cannot tell the lava where to go.”
Gerald Chukwuma is an incredibly interesting figure in the contemporary art panorama. Growing in fame incredibly fast, he will be soon displaying his work in Berlin, Netherland, and Washington D.C.
Visit artist’s gallery on RDN Arts: Gerald Chukwuma