“Artistically and personally I learnt the need to exercise more patience with myself and my work, the more time you give a painting, the better it becomes.”
- Kelechi Charles Nwaneri
AKKA Project Venezia is pleased to present Through My Eyes, a solo exhibition by Kelechi Charles Nwaneri, from 21.10 to 04.12.2021. The exhibition is the result of Kelechi Charles Nwaneri’s residency at AKKA Project Venezia. The body of work, composed of canvases and photographs, reflects on the experience lived by the artist during his permanency in Venice from October 18th to December 26th 2020.
Kelechi had the opportunity to experience the city of Venice in the winter of 2020, reconquered by its inhabitants, almost devoid of tourists and with closed activities due to the pandemic. According to his point of view, the culture of the people of Venice is similar to the Igbo People of Nigeria in many ways, the most striking is in the use of Masks and Symbols in cultural activities. Kelechi is part of the Igbo People.
The artist has explored different human personalities with the varying faces of masks, combining the traditional use and meanings of both Venetian and tribal masks. Kelechi has the ability to look at reality and turn it into an inspiration: from a typical Venetian daily occurrence, Kelechi created a surrealistic scene in which the hidden personality of a city, still to be completely understood, like Venice, is merged with the fascinating mystery of the African land and its symbols.
Symbols like; the Lion of St Mark, The gondola bow and a few others make up a good percentage of the identity of Venice as a Geographical region. This is the same in my culture as the use of symbols and signs in preserving culture is very evident in the Nsibidi and Uli ancient systems of writings. Referencing both Venetian and indigenous Igbo symbols I created images that center around the aesthetic of these symbols and what they represent.
Masquerades are associated with spiritual elements, as according to Igbo belief, they represent images of deities or sometimes even dead relatives. The identity of the masquerade is a well-kept secret and performed exclusively by men. Masquerades make up the core of most cultural celebrations. These dancing figures or “Masquerades” as often called are what I try to represent in the works using a male (masquerade 1) and female (masquerade 2)wooden Ghanaian mask and a note of symbols inspired by the ancient Nsibidi writing system. Together the Mask and the text creates a 2D representation of the essence of a masquerade.